Moment of truth for Lioli
LIOLI coach Mosholu “Shoes” Mokhothu says Tse Nala will do the nation proud when they host Burundian side Vital’ô Football Club in the 2016 Confederation of African Football Champions League preliminary round first leg match set for Setsoto stadium on Sunday.
“Our preparations for this match started a long time ago and this week is just about polishing up,” Mokhothu told the Lesotho Times this week.
“What we will need to do in the match is study their weaknesses and capitalise on them because we have to make the most of our home advantage. Home ground advantage is very important in these kind of matches, and we have to do all that it takes to win the first leg tie on our patch.”
The Lioli coach expressed satisfaction with his team’s preparations ahead of the crucial tie.
“I have done my part in preparing the team, and all that is left is for the players to finish the job in the field of play,” Mokhothu said.
“During our preparations, we concentrated on scoring, and I believe the players are ready to rise to the occasion on Sunday by playing good football and netting enough goals to carry us to the next round of the competition.”
The Lioli mentor is, however, sweating on the fitness of star midfielder Bushy Moletsane who recently returned to training after a groin injury.
“Bushy has finally returned to training. Unfortunately, he was unable to get some game time in our last two league matches as they were very physical and I needed to protect him from further injury.
“We will assess his situation this week and see if he can play a role in any of the two qualifiers,” Mokhothu said.
He also called on football supporters, regardless of club affiliation, to come to the national stadium and support Lioli.
“I think we need to learn as a country and football supporters to rally behind our team for the whole match, whether they are playing well or not,” Mokhothu said.
“What matters more than club affinities is the pride of the country which will be at stake. It is only when the players have the backing of the whole country that they can perform beyond expectations.”
Meanwhile, former Likuena coach, Leslie Notši, whose national side defeated Burundi 3-2 on aggregate in the preliminary round of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, said Lioli had the mettle to beat Vital’ô Football Club.
“I think Vital’ô Football Club will be a very physical side, but I believe Lioli can go toe to toe with the Burundian team. What they must be more concerned with is the psychological battle,” Notši said.
“The biggest challenge for the Lioli coach is to make sure that his players believe in themselves and don’t get intimidated as Vital’ô Football Club will want to get a point away from home.
“I also feel Lioli has an advantage when it comes to international exposure since their squad consists of Likuena players and some of them were part of the Lesotho team at the 2011 African Youth Championships.
Lioli stars, Jerry Kamele, Kananelo Makhooane, Kano Tseka, Basia Makepe, Tšoanelo Koetle, Mafa Moremoholo, Salebone Lekhooa and Montoeli Sonopo were all part of Notši’s team that played at the youth tournament played in South Africa.
“They should just play their normal game and try to be clinical in front of goal like they have been doing,” he said.
The match will kick-off at 3pm, with the second leg set for 28 February 2016 in the East African nation.
Lioli Head Coach Mosholu Mokhothu chats with his players in this file picture.