Win or bust
. . . as Matlama face Lioli in potential thriller
Matlama host lioli at Setsoto on Saturday in a potentially explosive Vodacom Premier league match that could decide the destiny of the championship.
lioli won the first round fixture 1-0 at Setsoto in a thriller which certainly lived up to its lofty status as the biggest fixture in domestic football.
the two giants top the 14-team premiership table with 52 points apiece from 23 matches and with three fixtures to go before the season comes to a close, whoever wins Saturday’s encounter would take a step closer to local football’s most prestigious title.
Matlama coach, Moses Maliehe, told the Lesotho Times his side go into the weekend clash high on confidence following last weekend’s 3-0 demolition of Liphakoe at Ratjomose Ground, but would not underrate lioli who are the defending league champions.
“this is one of the biggest games in the race for the league title, but I would not say the championship will be decided on Saturday because there are two more matches afterwards for both side, which can have a say on where the title goes,” Maliehe said.
“I’m just happy that we won against liphakoe last weekend because it was important that we maintained the momentum going into this crucial tie.”
the Matlama mentor also said he hoped Motebang Sera and Jane thabantšo continue with their goal-scoring form.
Sera is the league’s current top scorer with 12 goals while Thabantšo has struck 11 times, which makes them a lethal combination.
last weekend, Sera was on target once against liphakoe while thabantšo grabbed a brace to ensure Matlama kept pace with Lioli who edged Kick4life 1-0 at LCS Ground.
“It is very important for the boys to continue scoring goals. they both have their own targets as players and I will be happy to see any of them taking the top goalscorer award come end of the season,” said Maliehe.
“What is important is the players are very motivated and go into this match determined to do well.”
Maliehe also said he was not surprised with Matlama’s good run which has taken them closer to their 10th premier league title.
“I must say, it has not been an easy journey because we had a slow start to the campaign. However, I am not surprised at the way the team has been performing because the players understand my philosophy.
“I have worked with several of these young boys before when I was coaching the junior national teams so it was only a matter of time before we had that understanding back again,” said Maliehe, who is also the national team interim coach.
On his part, lioli coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu said his charges must be mentally and physically fit to win Saturday’s clash and go one step closer to defending their title.
“the most important thing is to prepare our players as best as we can for the upcoming match,” Mokhothu said.
“We have to make sure the boys concentrate the whole game to avoid being punished by Matlama so they need to be prepared psychologically as well as physically.
“I’m also aware teams prepare very well when they come to play us as was the case with Kick4life.”
Tse Nala scored a late penalty to beat Kick4Life last Saturday and maintain top spot on the table.
But according to Mokhothu, injuries have been his team’s major challenge this season.
“We have had so many injuries to our key players this season, but luckily, Bushy Moletsane has just returned to full fitness. However, Mohau Kuenane’s season has already ended because of the knee-injury the keeper sustained, and which now requires surgery,” Mokhothu said.
“It’s a big blow for us because Kuenane is a very experienced player and one of those goalkeepers who can launch an attack from a goal-kick.
“So he is a very special player who will be missed in this important game against Matlama. But still, we have done our homework and know what to expect against Matlama on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, LCS will be out to consolidate third place when they travel to Quthing to face liphakoe also on Saturday, while basement side Mphatlalatsane welcome liphakoe in Maputsoe.
Saturday’s other match will see likila host linare in a relegation scrap.
On Sunday, Kick4life welcome Bantu at Setsoto Stadium while LMPS host LDF at PTC Ground and Rovers are at home against likhopo in Roma.
Matlama midfielder Phafa Tšosane lioli midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle