League action returns
…as LMPS test Bantu title credentials
ECONET Premier League action returns this weekend after almost a month’s break due to the LNIG Top8 and Likuena’s involvement in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Defending champions Bantu will headline Saturday’s matches when they take on LMPS at Setsoto Stadium with the hope of closing the gap on leaders Matlama and second placed LCS.
A Matšo Matebele are a five points behind Tse Putsoa but still have a game in hand and their coach, James Madidilane, says his side will have to dig deep to come up with a win against the Teele Ntšonyana coached side.
Both teams had players in the Likuena squad that arrived back in the country on Tuesday after failing to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations last weekend.
The Bantu duo of Hlompho Kalake and Bokang Sello played the whole 90 minutes against Cape Verde on Sunday while Basia Makepe and Nkau Lerotholi were solid at the back for Likuena against the Portuguese speaking country. LMPS’ Roboama Koloti was unused as a substitute.
Madidlane told the Lesotho Times that he is expecting a tough match at the weekend.
“This is going to be a very tough game because I saw LMPS in their last two games,” Madidilane said.
“They looked rejuvenated and are also a good side. Our preparations for this match have to be good because we have a huge task against a tough opponent at the weekend.”
The Bantu mentor said it will be crucial for his side to get all the three points as they fight to retain the title and make it three league titles in a row.
Madidilane said his side has done enough to keep in good shape while some of his players were on national duty with Likuena.
They participated in the MGC Soccer Spectacular and played Majantja in the Sentabale Funeral Gap Cup on Sunday, where they lost 0-1.
“We need to get the three points though we know it’s not going to be easy. We will prepare in a way that will help us walk away with the points on Saturday.
“I have been rotating the players to ensure that all of them are in good shape and are also hungry for the remaining eight games.
“It was also important that we do not lose the momentum but at the same time, the friendlies matches are different from league games.
“The friendlies we played during the international break have helped us a lot.”
Madidilane said Kalake and Sello will definitely be part of the squad against LMPS though they could start on the bench after their long journey to and from Cape Verde.
“They need to rest and could be part of the squad for the upcoming game but might come from the bench.
“They are part of this team and have been doing well. Sello had a slow start since joining us but now he understands our philosophy and is enjoying his game.
“We will find a way to manage them because it will not help just to throw them onto the field of play when they are not mentally and physically ready for it,” he said.
Meanwhile, LMPS coach Teele Ntšonyana told this publication that the take every match like a cup final since they aim to finish the campaign in a respectable position.
“The truth of the matter is that we would be happy to get three points in all our remaining matches but football has its surprises and in the end it’s about the team that has prepared well for the match.
“Our target is to finish the season in a respectable position as we want to compete for important tournaments going forward.
“So, it’s our goal as the club to get to a respectable position for this campaign. Every game is important until the end of the season,” Ntšonyana said.
The former Likuena striker said he will monitor Makepe, Lerotholi and Koloti who are all key players and have just returned from national duty in Cape Verde.
“They will definitely need to rest and light training but this is now the journey of a football player and they have to deal with such busy schedules,” Ntšonyana said.
Elsewhere on Saturday, LDF will welcome Lioli at Setsoto Stadium in the first of the double header.
Both teams have been inconsistent in the league but have a chance of finishing the campaign among the top four clubs on the table.
LCS will also be in action on Saturday as they welcome Kick4Life at the LCS Ground. The correctional service side is also in the run for the league title while Kick4Life have their eyes on a top four spot.
League leaders Matlama will only be in action on Sunday when they take on struggling Swallows at Setsoto Stadium.
Econet Premier League weekend fixture
LCS v Kick4Life
LMPS v Bantu
LDF v Lioli
Liphakoe v Majantja
Matlama v Swallows
Linare v Galaxy
Likhopo v Sefotha-fotha