Battle royale at Setsoto Stadium
…as Bantu, Lioli lock horns
THE Econet Premier League clashes do not come any bigger than the Sunday showdown at Setsoto Stadium between champions, Bantu and Lioli- the team they dethroned to win the title last season.
The two teams have dominated the league championship in the last five years with Lioli winning three times and Bantu twice.
Bantu though, have a better head to head record, having won four out of their eight s since the 2013/14 season.
However, a bullish Tse Nala interim coach, Motebang Makhetha, is unfazed by A Matšo Matebele’s formidable record against his side.
He told the Lesotho Times that this is a new era and the tables have changed as evidenced by his side’s thumping 4-1 win in the final of the LNIG Top 8 early this year.
He said they were ready for Bantu’s game plan which revolved around the use of speedy and tricky wingers, adding, “That is what helped their dominance and gave them those goals”.
“Lioli has been aware of the Bantu game plan for some time now and that is why they were able to stop and beat them in the cup competition last season.
“What is left for me is to prepare the team well for this game and make sure that they are mentally strong for a game of this magnitude.
“We have to limit mistakes because we need the points and our approach will be a bit different, but it is not that we will ditch our style of play,” he said.
Makhetha also boasts the enviable record of being the only undefeated coach in the league this season, having won four out of six games.
“When you coach a big team like Lioli you can never be completely happy.
“Goals and plans change with every game and one can never be in a comfort zone but I am happy with the support from the supporters, management and players.
“I have been able to do my work without any worries,” he said.
Sunday could well be a different game for Makhetha as he will up against the wily South African, James Madidilane, who wrote his own piece of history by guiding Bantu to the title in his maiden season.
Madidilane told this publication that he was fully aware of the task that awaits his charges on Sunday.
“Our approach and preparations will not be that different to how we usually play but we are well aware that this is a very big game.
“We want to win the match to open a gap between us and them going to the Christmas break.
“Both teams are doing well and for us it’s all about the three points or at least a point if we cannot win it.”
However, the Bantu mentor said there were injury concerns over two players whose identities he refused to reveal.
He however, said they had other players who could rise to the occasion should the duo fail to recover on time.
“The mood is very good in our camp but we have to be on the alert because Lioli surprised us in our last meeting. My players had switched off and we got the shock of our lives when they went two goals up within the first 15 minutes.
“This is one of those games which is a war because if you lose concentration you are dead.
“So we have to be ready mentally and be on the alert in the critical stages of the game to avoid what happened the last time we faced them.”
In other Sunday matches, LMPS take on struggling Linare while Sefotha-fotha will battle it out against winless Sky Battalion.
The rest of the matches remain postponed due to the unavailability of some players who are doing duty with the national under-20 team at the ongoing regional COSAFA Cup in Zambia.
Last weekend only two matches took place and LCS’ struggles continued after they were held to a goalless draw by Majantja. LMPS and LDF played to a two-all draw.
Lioli v Bantu
LMPS v Linare
Sefotha-fotha v Sky Battalion