Double delight at Setsoto
THE Vodacom Premier League season will get underway with a mouth-watering double header at Setsoto Stadium on Saturday as Kick4life go toe-to-toe with Likhopo and defending champions Lioli face off with LMPS.
According to Tse Nala communication and marketing officer, Tšeliso Lerata, the defending league champions were raring to re-establish their league dominance.
The Teyateyaneng-based outfit foray into the 2016/17 campaign having parted ways with last season’s captain, Basia Makepe. The influential defender re-joined LMPS after a season-long loan spell. Lioli’s Nkoto Masoabi and Tšepo Lekhooana will also not be available in the LMPS match due to suspension for failing to show-up for pre-season training.
However, Lerata said there was enough depth in the squad to cover the absences after the acquisition of former Likuena striker Thapelo Tale, Setho Moshoeshoe who returned home after years in the United States and Thahane Mokhehle from Mphatlalatsane.
“The squad has a lot of depth, and I don’t think there is need to panic about the players who left or are unavailable for the opening match,” he said.
“Tale comes with a big name and will surely prove a good signing along with the other new players. In any case, we still have our top players who helped the team win the league last season. So we are ready for the new campaign.”
LMPS public relations officer Kotsoane Ramakau said their focus was on the three points on offer on Saturday.
He said the club was racing against time to complete new singings to bolster the squad and register Makepe.
“I think we have prepared well and are ready for the new season to begin,” Ramakau said.
“The players have been working hard and also played some friendly games to assess how far we have gone in our pre-season preparations.
“We are also in the process of reinforcing our squad with Makepe returning after a loan spell at Lioli. Our agreement with Lioli was for him to play for them last season and return for the 2016/17 season.”
Bantu coach James Madidilani, who is saddled with the onerous task of reviving Matšo Matebele’s fortunes after a disastrous 2015/16 campaign also declared his side was ready to rumble.
“Our pre-season preparations went very well, and we are ready to compete,” Madidilani said.
“As far as challenging for honours is concerned, all I can say is anything is possible. I am happy with the team we have, although there is a possibility of making two or three more additions to the squad before the transfer window closes.”
Moses Maliehe, whose Matlama side travel to league rookies Butha-buthe Warriors on Sunday, said Tse Putsoa might not have fared well during the pre-season, but the league opener would be a different ball game. Matlama lost to LCS in the Alliance Winter
AChallenge and to former Botswana champions Township Rollers during the preseason.
“We have continued to work hard to improve from our mistakes, and I think everything is going well so far,” he said.
“The opening match is very important for us, and we will go there to get three points. The pre-season period was part of the learning process, so we will not put too much stock into it.”
Maliehe added: “The mistakes we made in some of the preseason matches were good in that they helped us to improve and learn.”
For his part, Leslie Notši of Kick4life welcomed a tough opening fixture against Likhopo, saying his side had a good pre-season which galvanised them ahead of the new campaign.
“We had a very good pre-season, and I think everyone is ready from the technical department to the players,” Notši said.
“It is not going to be easy, but we are ready and raring to go. We will want to maintain the performance levels we displayed last sea- son and do well once again.”
Premier league opening fixtures Lioli v LMPS Kick4life v Likhopo Linare v Sky Battalion
Sunday LDF v Sundawana Bantu v Rovers Liphakoe v LCS BB Warriors v Matlama
Lioli winger Lekhanya Lekhanya (centre) evades LMPS players in their encounter last season.