Premier­ship back with a bang

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Vo­da­com Premier League ac­tion re­turns on Satur­day af­ter a short break due to the na­tional team’s back-to-back africa cup of Na­tions com­mit­ments against the Sey­chelles.

Bantu host LCS in ar­guably the pick of Satur­day’s fix­tures, with Mphat­lalat­sane at home to Matlama, Sun­dawana re­ceiv­ing LMPS and

Liphakoe en­ter­tain­ing Linare to com­plete the day’s matches.

On Sun­day, Rovers take on Lik­ila United, Kick­4life face LDF and Li­oli bat­tle Likhopo. Li­oli lead the 14-team premier­ship pack on 45 points from 20 matches, while Matlama and LCS are sec­ond and third on 43 and 41 points, re­spec­tively.

Fourth-placed Sun­dawana are on 33 points with Bantu in fifth place on 29 points.

Like Li­oli, the rest of the teams have played 20 of their 26 matches of the 2015/16 Vo­da­com Premier League sea­son.

Mean­while, al­though LCS lost to Li­oli in their last match be­fore the Easter break, head-coach Mpitsa Marai be­lieves the ti­tler­ace re­mains very much alive.

“Maybe that de­feat to Li­oli was a wakeup call to us be­cause we had not lost since the sec­ond round of the sea­son started in Jan­uary,” Marai said.

“We talked with the play­ers to try and move away from that dis­ap­point­ment and go into this up­com­ing match a bet­ter side.”

marai also dis­missed sug­ges­tions that the in­ter­na­tional break could have fur­ther af­fected his team’s mo­men­tum.

“I don’t think the break af­fected us, but in­stead, gave the team a chance to rest as the games had been com­ing thick and fast since the sec­ond round of the sea­son started,” he said.

“Some of the play­ers were now tired so it was im­por­tant that they recharged their bat­ter­ies.

“We are now ready to con­tinue fight­ing for the cham­pi­onship. The im­por­tant thing is we have not lost hope in this ti­tle race be­cause there is still a long way and Li­oli can still drop points which will help us close the gap on them.”

On the other hand, Bantu coach, Bafo­keng Mo­hapi, em­pha­sised the im­por­tance of col­lect­ing max­i­mum points.

“There has been a big im­prove­ment com­pared to the first round and I think the team is now play­ing with more con­fi­dence,” Mo­hapi said.

“We are not putting our­selves un­der pres­sure and con­tinue to play each game as it comes.

“But what I can tell you is we will be ready for LCS on Satur­day al­though the play­ers are a bit rusty be­cause of the in­ter­na­tional break.”

For his part, Li­oli coach, Mosholu ‘ Shoes’ Mokhothu said the tar­get was de­fend­ing their league ti­tle.

“This is a very im­por­tant match against Likhopo and we can­not af­ford to drop any points as the sec­ond and third placed teams are not far from us,” Mokhothu said.

“We have to con­tinue work­ing hard and we will wel­come back the play­ers who have been on na­tional duty with Likuena.

“The good thing about it is they have been on a very busy sched­ule and their con­di­tion must be quite good.

“All we have to do once they are back is to try and get the com­bi­na­tions right.”

Likhopo have been go­ing through a tough time, but team man­ager, Qa­mako Ma­hao, be­lieves that is all about to end.

“We sat down as a team and iden­ti­fied our prob­lems. We be­lieve those chal­lenges are now a thing of the past,” Ma­hao said.

“The play­ers and coach­ing staff were hard at work over the long week­end to try and get things back on track.

“I still feel on our day, we are one of the most dif­fi­cult teams to beat.”

Full week­end fix­tures Satur­day: Bantu v LCS, Mphat­lalat­sane v Matlama, Sun­dawana v LMPS, Liphakoe v Linare.

Sun­day: Rovers v Lik­ila United, Kick­4life v LDF, Li­oli v Likhopo.

LCS mid­fielder Ralekoti Mokhahlane (right) is closely watched by Bantu mid­fielder Hlom­pho 'Stiga' Kalake - file pic.

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