Title-aspirants Lioli host struggling Likhopo in a potentially fiery Vodacom Premier League contest set for Setsoto stadium on Saturday.
A win would see Lioli close-in on bitter rivals Bantu, who now top the 14-team Premier League table on 21 points but have played three more games than Tse Nala who are in third position on 19 points.
Likhopo, on the other hand, are on the wrong side of the table and have only won twice in nine matches this campaign and have a paltry eight points to show for their sweat.
However, Likhopo assistant coach, Tšeliso Mofolo, says the team is slowly getting back to their best and would leave Setsoto with maximum points come Saturday.
“This is a very important match for us as we continue to recover from a disappointing start to the campaign,” Mofolo told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday this week.
“Matches between us and Lioli have a rich history and are always full of passion. But we need the points badly, and victory on Saturday will kick-start our revival because we need to win all our remaining matches of the first round of the league programme.”
Mofolo noted the recent return of star-player, Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana, after a long injury layoff has been a big boost as the playmaker is already having a massive impact.
Mothoana scored in the team’s last match against highflying rookies Kick4Life, with the match ending 2-2.
“The absence of key players had affected us very badly hence our early struggles, but their return to fitness is working wonders already,” said Mofolo.
“We also expect star-striker Thapelo Tale to be available for the match as he is also back to full fitness.”
Tale has only featured against Qoaling Highlanders so far this season, but is a dangerous player on his day, hence Mofolo’s optimism following his recovery.
On the other hand, Lioli coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, said he was fully aware of Likhopo’s threat.
“It’s one of those matches which has history behind it and we must come up with a good plan to get maximum points on Saturday,” Mokhothu said.
“We all know that Likhopo have not been playing well of late, but still, they are a very good team and we will have to be at our best to beat them.
“It’s a very important game for us and we need the points like they do to keep pace with teams at the top of the table.”
Meanwhile, also on Saturday, LDF get an early chance to return to winning ways when they host the league’s surprise package, Likila United.
The army side, who were the league’s early pacesetters, are winless in their last three matches and need victory badly to remain in second position after losing top spot to Bantu last weekend.
Another match set to produce fireworks on Saturday will be between LCS and Linare at LCS Ground.
Linare are 5th on the table while LCS occupy 6th place. Tse Tala, as Linare are affectionately known, have been improving since Freese Ntene was reinstated as head-coach last month and won their last three games, which moved them from the relegation zone to the respectable end of the table.
Masheshena, on the other hand, have been very inconsistent in recent weeks, but a win could put them back in the title race among the other big guns.
Weekend fixtures at a glance
Saturday: Lioli v Likhopo, Mphatlalatsane v Bantu, LCS v Linare, LDF v Likila.
Sunday: Qoaling Highlanders v Matlama, Sundawana v Kick4Life, LMPS v Nyenye.