MASERU — Football can really be a cruel game.
Just when Lioli fans were beginning to entertain thoughts of a first league title in 24 years, they have to endure this: a pair of draws that are harder to swallow than a 5-0 loss to Bantu.
Perhaps more crucially, Lioli’s mini-crisis has coincided with the improvement of LCS while the LDF juggernaut is in top gear.
Whereas Lioli were a week ago only three points behind the leaders — with a game in hand — they are now a full seven points off the top.
Fascinatingly, Lioli are refusing to give up.
“We still have a chance,” Lioli winger Lehlohonolo Mpopo told the Lesotho Times this week.
“We have to look at our remaining games and win.”
Lioli coach Mosholi Mokhothu remains upbeat as well.
“I haven’t lost hope. The chances to win are still there,” he said.
However, in the last three games Lioli have failed to convert chances — drawing three successive times.
They ground out a goalless draw against LMPS before sharing the spoils in identical one-all draws against Linare and Rovers.
Interestingly, they have enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in all the matches as well as a higher number of shots on goal, but it counts for little.
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“We lack natural strikers and there is no one we can say can come off the bench to score,” Mpopo, Lioli’s top scorer, said.
“It does put extra pressure on me, but also we have been sharing the goals with other players.”
Lioli play nice football and, unlike LDF, grinding out results is not in the nature of this overtly technical, attacking outfit built for goals.
Might that be their Achille’s heel?
“At this time there is no reason to change our style, a style that has got us where we are now,” Mokhothu said.
In fact, Mokhothu believes Easter’s results were partly due to tinkering with what had worked before.
“The way we played during Easter was different and it didn’t really work,” he said.
“This is the type of football we play, because of the type of players that I have. I have ball-players in my team.
“When you have a ball-player you play a certain way. So we won’t change our style.”