Double delight in Maputsoe

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…as LNIG Top 8 roars to life

Mikia Kalati

ALL roads lead to Maputsoe this Saturday, for the first set of the LNIG Top8 quarterfinals in a double header featuring the tournament’s defending champions, Lioli, who lock horns with LMPS while Matlama take on Kick4Life later that day.

Tse Nala, as Lioli are affectionately referred to, wade into the match on the back of a morale boosting 1-0 win over Majantja in a league encounter. The team handed coach Morena Ramoreboli his first win since joining the Teyateyaneng based outfit in early in January.

The Free State-born coach praised his charges’ attitude going into the tie against LMPS and said his players were slowly adapting to his philosophy.

“Yes, that was the fourth game the team played under my mentorship, but it was not an easy victory playing against a side that is also fighting for the points to secure their safety in the league,” Ramoreboli told this publication.

“I think when you are trying to implement a new philosophy, you first work at the way your team is defending as well as the attack in order to score goals and win matches.

“That is exactly what we did in our recent games though we were unfortunate in some of them where our finishing let us down.”

The Lioli coach said he expects a different ball game against the police side and is adamant that his side has found their groove back having ended their winless streak in Mohale’s Hoek.

“I think the victory over LMPS has helped bring back the confidence of our players which is very key going into a cup competition at the weekend,” Tse Nala mentor stated.

“I always say, every match be it a cup competition or league game should be approached with the same respect because it is only when you are winning that you can be a champion. To win a trophy, you first have to win the first match of the tournament to set the tone and go all the way.

“So it is very important that we are fully focused on the task ahead to see us to win the match and progress to the next phase of the competition.”

The former Bloemfontein Celtic assistant coach said he was happy with how the players have responded to his way of doing things, but believes it would have been much better had he started pre-season with the club.

“Honestly speaking, I think the players have responded well to my philosophy, but at the same time I think it would have been much better had I been with the team from their pre-season,” he said.

“Due to all that, you cannot expect everything to come that easily, but the players have given their best showing commitment and discipline at all the time.”

LMPS coach Ntebele ‘Mocholene’ Taole, who was also roped into the new job at the start of the second round in January, bemoaned the absence of seven of his young players who are undergoing training to be police officers.

“All is going on well for us at the moment, but my biggest worry is that I have recently lost seven of my young players who have just started training preparing them to be police officers and they will not be available for two-three months,” the veteran tactician told the Lesotho Times.

“It’s a blow to us because those boys were just starting to enjoy their football and helping the team get positive results. That means that I have been forced to go back to some of the old players in the team that were no longer regulars.

“But it does not mean that we have already surrendered ourselves to Lioli. We will go to the match and fight with everything to win the match,” he said.

The former Matlama and Bantu coach said he was aware his side had a mammoth task in their attempts to end LMPS’s long drought for major trophies.

“We know that Lioli is a very tough side that has a big history as far as the game is concerned in this country. But we also have a good team as well despite all those challenges and have our own ambitions to compete for honours,” he said.

The second quarterfinal match of the day will feature Matlama against Kick4Life; teams that are both licking their wounds following defeats to Likhopo and LCS respectively in their previous league matches.

Tse Putsoa just like LMPS have gone on a drought that dates back to almost a decade without winning a trophy despite being regarded as the most decorated side in the Mountain Kingdom.

Matlama are a record nine time Lesotho Premier League champions with their last success having come during the 2009/10 season.

Kick4Life on the other hand will be hoping to cause an upset in order to stand a chance of winning their first ever trophy in Lesotho’s top flight football.

The Leslie Notši coached side is in their fourth season playing top flight football and have written their own history by qualifying for Lesotho two big tournaments after finishing in fourth place during the 2016/17 season.

On Sunday, LDF take on LCS while Bantu return from their continental commitment to face premier league strugglers Sky Battalion.

A Matšo Matebele occupies first position on the log while Sky Battalion is at the bottom of the table and the only side without a win after sixteen games.

The LNIG Top8 competition is sponsored by insurance giants Lesotho National Insurance Group to the tune of M1 million and the winner will walk away with M100 000.

Runners up will pocket M80 000 with the third placed team taking home M60 000 and fourth placed team pockets M50 000. All the teams knocked out in the quarterfinals get M30 000.

LNIG Top8 fixture

Saturday

Lioli v LMPS

Matlama v Kick4Life

Sunday

LDF v LCS

Sky Battalion v Bantu

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