Battle lines drawn



…as Bantu host bitter rivals Lioli

Mikia Kalati

bantu - lioliMatches between Bantu and Lioli have become the biggest fixtures in domestic football over recent years, and the two giants’ league clash tomorrow is therefore expected to attract a bumper crowd at Leshoboro Stadium in Mafeteng.

Tse Nala top the 14-team premier league table with 52 points, while second-placed Bantu are on 47, with five matches remaining before the 2014/15 season comes to a close.

However, Lioli coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, said more would be at stake than the three points, when the two giants face-off in arguably the pick of tomorrow’s Vodacom Premier League matches.

“You could say this is a history-making match as a win on Friday will surely see us put one hand on the league trophy,” Mokhothu said on Tuesday.

“Our target is to take this match and boost our chances of winning the league championship, but again, pride will also be at stake as our clashes have become the biggest football fixtures in Lesotho.”

The Lioli tactician further told the Lesotho Times that although he could be without some of his star-players in Friday’s tie due to injury, he had enough replacements to take the fight to Bantu.

“I’m a bit worried because of injuries to some of our key players such as Bushy Moletsane, Motlapula Mofolo, Bafokeng Mosala, Teboho Lekhooa and Bokang Sello that could rule them out of them match, but we have a big pool of players, from which we can find adequate replacements. Yes, they would be a blow should they fail to recover, but like I said, we have a quality squad that can carry on this push for the title,” said Mokhothu.

According to Mokhothu, his main aim is to end Bantu’s dominance over Lioli after the Mafeteng-based outfit completed a league double over their bitter rivals en-route to winning the title last season.

“As things stand, Bantu have had the better of us over recent matches. We score first in most of the matches, but then lose concentration towards the end, which then costs us dearly.

“We must have a plan to stop their dominance because this is a make-or-break match for us if we are to win the league title,” he said.

On his part, Bantu coach, Motlatsi Shale, believes his charges have the character to beat the log-leaders, thereby taking the league championship race to the wire.

“This is the most important match of this campaign because its outcome could decide the destination of the league title,” Shale said.

“We cannot afford to slip-up as Lioli already have a five-point cushion over us and only Bantu can stop them as other teams have failed.

“If we don’t win here on Friday, it will be very difficult for other teams to stop our bitter rivals, but we have to be at our best to get the three points from Lioli.”

Shale, who said his players were “ready to go to war” with Lioli on Friday, would be banking on the wealth of experience among his players, as well as the goal-poaching exploits of the premier league’s current top scorer, Litšepe Marabe. The talented forward has scored 18 goals this season, and his scintillating form makes him the player to watch tomorrow.

“Litšepe has been in fantastic form and is delivering when it matters most. We lost our top-scorer from last season, Tsebang ‘Owen’ Lebata, who did not play any match at all this term, but Litšepe has stepped up to the plate and is doing the job for the team.

“I’m confident he will continue to score goals as the season progresses because the title could end up being decided on goal difference,” Shale said.

A Matšo Matebele, who will be without first choice goalkeeper, Liteboho Mokhesi, who was red-carded in last weekend’s 2-0 league win over Highlanders, would also be hoping to capitalise on home advantage tomorrow, after the first round match between the two teams played at Setsoto Stadium ended goalless.

Friday’s league fixtures at a glance

Bantu v Lioli, Qoaling Highlanders v LMPS, Linare v Mphatlalatsane, LCS v Nyenye, Likhopo v LDF, Likila v Sundawana, Kick4Life v Matlama.

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