Win or bust

. . . as Mat­lama face Li­oli in po­ten­tial thriller

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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

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