SANDAWANA assistant coach Freeze Ntene says the physical fitness of his players will be key to their quest to overturn a 3-5 deficit in Saturday’s second leg LNIG Top 8 quarterfinal clash with Kick4Life at LCS Ground.
The Butha Buthe side were on the receiving end when the two sides met in the first leg three weeks back.
Ntene was head coach before being re-deployed to assistant following the arrival of Spaniard, Antonio Jesus Flores who was unveiled as new head coach last Friday.
“Of course it will take time for the players to get used to his way of doing things, but the process has been very smooth so far,” Ntene said, “There is the language factor, but the players are getting used to him though we all need time for things to be perfect”.
Ntene said spirit in the team was very high as the players wanted to prove their quality to the new mentor.
“Our preparations are going very well and we have to be ready for the important game against Kick4Life.
“We will have to be very sharp to improve our match fitness as our league match last weekend was called off due to heavy rains.”
He said they were aware of magnitude of the task that awaited them as Kick4Life “are a tough and experienced side with an experienced coach as well as the players which worked in their favour in the first leg”.
“But we cannot give up because we have a job to take care of come Saturday.
“The good thing is that we scored the three goals and that could be a motivation ahead of Saturday,” Ntene said.
His Kick4Life counterpart, Leslie Notši also bemoaned the lack of game time over the weekend after their league match against Liphakoe was also postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
“It would have been good to play and continue the momentum but at the same time, it was not safe to play in those conditions to avoid injuries,” Notši said.
“It’s will be a crucial match given that they just signed a new coach from Europe and we are anticipating that the morale of their players is very high.
“They will want to impress their coach and we are expecting a tough encounter,” Notši said, adding, “We are looking forward to the match and it will be very important to get an early goal”.
The experienced former Likuena coach said his technical team was happy with the team’s progress after only three years of top flight football.
“We are satisfied with our boys and the strikers have been scoring goals.
“We must take advantage of home ground to score as many goals as possible to wrap up the quarterfinal phase.”
He said they would respect their opposition and the tournament by fielding their best eleven.
In another quarterfinal tie, LCS and LDF have a lot to play for after their first leg encounter finished goalless in Maputsoe a fortnight ago.
LCS are high on confidence after dispatching Matlama 2-0 in the league last Saturday.
LDF could only afford a 1-1 draw against LMPS at Ratjomose Barracks.
On Sunday, Lioli return to domestic football after their elimination from CAF Champions League.
Tse Nala have a 3-0 advantage from the first leg and look set to record another win over struggling Likhopo.
The last of the quarterfinals will be between Bantu and Matlama in Mafeteng.
A Matšo Matebele won the first leg match 2-1 and there is still a lot to play for.
LNIG Top 8 fixtures:
Kick4Life v Sandawana
LCS v LDF
Likhopo v Lioli
Bantu v Matlama