Premiership back with a bang
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.