Easter football fiesta
. . . as Lioli hunts down premiership pacesetters Bantu
SOCCER lovers can expect a sporting feast when the Easter weekend begins tomorrow as the Vodacom Premier League clubs take to the field in matches that could decide the championship and relegation.
Newly crowned LNIG Top 8 champions Lioli will go head to head with Rovers in a match that has a strong bearing on both ends of the table.
A win for Tse Nala will see them overtake Bantu on top of the log while a win for Rovers could boost their chances of surviving the dreaded chop.
Lioli coach Halemakale Mahlaha underscored the importance of the match, saying his charges had to avoid complacency after their cup success on Sunday.
“I hope the players will fully focus on the upcoming matches because we have a chance of going top,” Mahlaha said in an interview with the Lesotho Times this week.
“I gave the players an off day on Monday to enjoy the moment (of their triumph) but we will have to go back to the pitch and work hard again.”
Mahlaha has won two trophies since replacing Mosholu ‘ Shoes’ Mokhothu at the start of the season.
He said their mandate was to defend all the trophies that they won last season and they were on the right track.
The Lioli mentor said he was aware of the task that awaits them against Rovers who are playing for survival.
“We know that they can be a very good side because they beat us 2-1 in our first game after winning the Independence Cup late last year.
“So we have to be cautious in our approach because we need to win all our remaining matches,” he said.
He said they would draw inspiration from their last three matches where they scored five goals against Butha Buthe Warriors and four against each of Bantu and LCS.
“The positives that I have taken from our last three games is that we are scoring goals again which means the players are giving everything to help the team achieve its goals.”
Rovers come into the match on the back of a tumultuous week at the National University of Lesotho where violent confrontations between the police and students protesting government’s non-payment of their fees resulted in the closure of the institution.
Club president, Teboho Nzeku said this could work against his players psychologically.
“We cannot really say what will happen going forward, but it’s obvious the disturbance is going to work affect us psychologically one way or the other,” Nzeku said.
“Such situations had a big impact on our performances in the past but we will prepare in the best way we can.
“We can’t ask for the game to be postponed because this fixture is a delayed one so it will be unfair on the authorities and other teams.”
The Dynamites boss however said they were confident of a good result after their impressive comeback to beat Likhopo 2-1 in the battle for survival a fortnight ago.
“We responded very well after losing to Butha Buthe Warriors and playing at the Intervarsity games.
“We have had internal issues of truancy with some key players but we have since spoken to them about the importance of helping the team survive relegation.”
He said they would take the momentum of their victory over Likhopo into the match they would fight hard to win as they could not afford to drop points.
In the other Friday matches, third placed Kick4life face off with Liphakoe while Likhopo entertain Sandawana in a double header at LCS Ground.
Relegated Butha Buthe Warriors travel to Maseru for a date with LDF.
On Sunday, Lioli have a tough task against LCS in a repeat of last Sunday’s LNIG Top 8 final.
The following day Bantu will take on Liphakoe in a potential thriller as the title race enters the home stretch.
Matlama have a tough assignment against Sky Battalion in a battle for a top eight finish.
Lioli v Rovers Kick4life v Liphakoe Likhopo v Sandawana LDF v Butha Buthe Warriors
Sunday Lioli v LCS
Monday Bantu v Liphakoe Matlama v Sky Battalion Linare v Likhopo Sandawana v Rovers LMPS v Kick4life
Bantu midfielder Litšepe MARABE. Lioli midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle.