DEFENDING Econet Premier League champions, Bantu, ended the first round of the 2017/18 campaign in style by edging bitter rivals Lioli 2-1 at Ratjomose Ground last Sunday.
The win cemented A Matso Matebele’s place at the top of the log by increasing their lead from two to five points over second-placed Lioli.
Lioli can still narrow the gap to two points if they collect maximum points against Matlama in the last match of the season’s first round slated for the weekend.
Goals scored in both halves by Litšepe Marabe and Lazola Tjokotjokwana secured the James Madidilane-coached outfit’s seventh win against Lioli in 15 league matches.
Six of the ties were draws, while Lioli has only managed two wins.
Lioli’s consolation goal came from a controversial penalty in the second half from Tsoanelo Koetle.
Bantu dominated possession from the get-go and it wasn’t long before Tsietsi Motšeare dribbled past Lioli’s Sheetsane Ramoseeka to set up Marabe who made no mistake to secure the lead for the Mafeteng-based outfit.
However, at the half-hour mark, Motšeare had to be substituted due to a hamstring injury and replaced by Tjokotjokwana.
The stocky striker did not disappoint as he continued where Motšeare left off. It was not long before Tjokotjokwana extended the lead for his side with a few minutes from the half-time break.
Bantu defender Johannes Molapo was contentiously penalised for handling the ball inside the penalty area. Penalty taker Koetle made sure the ball was not within goalkeeper Thabo Sedisa’s reach by blasting it high into the net.
Meanwhile, LCS also won big by thumping Likhopo 4-1 at LCS Ground last Sunday.
LCS midfielder Mosiuooa Boseeka scored a hat-trick, while winger Thabang Malane netted his first goal this season. Likhopo’s consolation goal came from James Mothotjeloa.
The win resulted in the correctional service side leapfrogging three teams from position eight to five, while Likhopo slipped from position 11 to 12.
Premiership new boys Sefotha-fotha continued with their fine run by getting the better of struggling Sky Battalion with a 1-0 score line. This was the second consecutive win for the Mabote-based outfit.
Sky Battalion, on the other hand, remain winless and anchor the 13-team league table after losing 11 games and drawing one of the 12 matches played so far.
A match between LMPS and Linare ended with a one-all stalemate at Maputsoe DIFA Ground with Monyatheli Ntobo and Rethabile Selonyane on the score sheet.
Meanwhile, the LDF-Matlama and Majantja-Kick4Life matches were postponed since Kick4Life and Matlama had more than two players in the national under-20 side that was participating at the regional COSAFA tourney.