- as Matlama, Lioli renew rivalry
ALL lead to Setsoto Stadium this Saturday for an Econet Premier League football fiesta to be headlined by the clash between Matlama and Lioli in the afternoon.
The day will begin with a clash between Kick4Life and Swallows while Likhopo will battle it out with Bantu in the second match.
The Lioli versus Matlama tie comes on the back of a good weekend for both sides as they maintained their unbeaten runs in the second round of the season.
Tse Putsoa clinched a 2-0 win over LDF on Saturday to keep their place at the top of the table with 38 points after 16 games while Tse Nala netted a late goal through Sweetbirth Kum to break the Likhopo resistance on Sunday.
Tse Putsoa mentor Thabile Secker said a victory over Lioli will go a long way to make their case in the race for the championship.
“It’s a very important game because beating Lioli will keep us on the right track in the race for the league title,” Secker told this publication.
“They are a big side and playing them will surely work positively in the confidence of the players. The morale is very high in camp and we are working hard to prepare for the match. I’m confident we will register positive results.”
The Matlama coach said the unity in his team has been the main attribute for this season’s impressive run of five victories in the new-year.
Tse Putsoa won the battle between the two rivals in the first round dismissing them 3-1 at Setsoto Stadium in the first week of January.
“I think the communication between the technical team and the players has been very good. We all know our responsibilities and the players are supporting each other from the ones in the starting team to those on the bench.
“We are all supporting each other and its working wonders for the team,” Secker said.
Secker also applauded the return of star midfielder Phafa Tšosane, who is yet to play for Tse Putsoa since their victory over Lioli in the first game of the new-year.
Matlama’s longest serving player was recently linked to a departure to rivals Bantu where he had allegedly been offered a more lucrative contract if he ditched the country most successful club.
However, Tšosane has since made peace with the team’s management and could be in contention for a place in the line-up against Tse Nala on Saturday.
Lioli coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana said the league title is out of reach for his side after a poor first round but impressed on the fact that he wants Tse Nala to continue grinding results to finish the campaign among the top four teams.
“It is very important to maintain the performance we have produced in the second round because if we hope to stay in the top four bracket, we have to fight to our games.
“It’s not that we will win every game but it’s important is to maintain consistency. Winning all our games is next to impossible but our approach is to take every game as it comes,” Thotanyana said.
He said his target in the upcoming match is to consolidate their place among the top teams in the league and will not be looking for revenge against the Tse Putsoa side that defeated them in the first round.
“We need to consolidate our position among the top teams in the league and that’s the important thing to us as the club.
“We are not focused on getting revenge on Matlama but it’s a question of taking the three points at the end of the game.
“We will lose focus if we think about getting revenge. We are playing to improve our position on the table.
“We want to finish in a respectable position. The league is out of our reach because we lost too many games in the first round and it worked against us.
“We are not vying for the league and it’s all about giving us a chance to defend our Independence Cup by finishing among the top four teams.
“I think the performance of the team so far is gratifying for everyone involved. We can just pride ourselves for applying ourselves in the manner that we have done.
“We are hungry for more points,” Thotanyana said.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Majantja host Galaxy in Mohale’s Hoek with both teams hoping to continue where they left-off last weekend after victories over Sefotha-fotha and Kick4Life respectively.
On Sunday, LDF will look to return to winning ways when they welcome Linare at Ratjomose and with LMPS welcoming Liphakoe at PTC ground.
Second placed LCS will be away to Sefotha-fotha as the look to mount pressure on leaders Matlama.
Lioli v Matlama
Bantu v Likhopo
Kick4Life v Swallows
Majantja v Galaxy
LDV v Linare
LMPS v Liphakoe
Sefotha-fotha v LCS