…as Lioli, Likhopo renew rivalry
Revitalised Likhopo and Lioli will renew their rivalry when they clash in an Econet Premier League encounter scheduled for Setsoto Stadium on Sunday.
Both teams head into the match on the back of impressive weekend fixtures with the Red Army edging LDF 2-0 to complete a double over Motheo Mohapi’s coached side this season.
Tse Nala on the other hand were rampant last Saturday scoring six goals past struggling Swallows in their biggest win of the 2018/19 Econet Premier League season so far.
Lioli coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana admitted that the return of star midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle has played huge big role in his side turning the tables in the second round.
The talented anchor-man and former Likuena midfielder has been sidelined since he refused to undergo a drug test in 2017.
He missed the whole of the first round but was recently given the greenlight to return to action.
The Teyateyaneng outfit has since clinched three victories in a row for the first time this season.
“Yes, it’s very important to maintain consistency to end the season on a respectable position and to do that we need to keep winning,” Thotanyana said.
“We are aware that it’s tough now. The second round is usually tough. Every team plays either to finish in the top four, top eight or to win the championship.
“Koetle has changed our game a lot. He is an impact player and he gives us options in the midfield.
“It’s a tough journey but we are fighting as hard as possible to continue climbing on the log. Being among the top four teams would do us good going into next season.”
The veteran coach said it’s important for his side to maintain its winning run of the second round.
Thotanyana said complacency could have worked against his side in the first round having won the Independence Cup just two months into the 2018/19 campaign.
The second match at Setsoto will see defending champions Bantu take on Swallows.
A Matšo Matebele returned to league action last weekend with a 2-0 win over Galaxy after their elimination from the CAF Confederations Cup.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Liphakoe will take on wounded LCS, who lost their place at the top of the table after a goalless draw against Linare last weekend.
LCS coach Mpitsa Marai said that the game against Liphakoe will determine how far they will go in the race for the league title.
“For me, this is game that will tell how far we will go in this race for the league title. It’s a game in which we have to work very hard especially the technical team to help our players not to panic.
“We talked with the players after dropping points against Linare to ensure that they understand our situation. Football is like that, we have been ahead of Matlama for some time, they were also ahead of us earlier in this season but we have now overtaken them.
“The difference is only a point and we will get back to the top if they drop points. It’s very important for us to stay focused.
“This is also a lesson to us because we have been dropping points against teams that have not done so well this season,” he said.
Marai said Linare came with a solid plan against his side last weekend which was to secure a point but he said they must now return to winning ways against Liphakoe.
“We have to fight like a team which is in the race for a league title by converting all the chances we get. The technical team must also put more effort to improve the team’s finishing.
“The game against Liphakoe is crucial because it will boost our challenge for the title. However, injuries have made our past games difficult as we often missed some of our key players.
“But things could improve this weekend as Sepiriti Malefane and Setho Moshoeshoe are close returning to full fitness,” he said.
Linare will be at home against LMPS as their new coach Teele Ntšonyana faces his former club which he left in the first round.
Leaders Matlama will also be in action against LDF as the two most successful teams in the country renew their rivalry.
Econet Premier League fixture
Matlama v LDF
Liphakoe v LCS
Majantja v Sefotha-fotha
Linare v LMPS
Likhopo v Lioli
Swallows v Bantu
Galaxy v Kick4Life