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Lerotholi plot escape

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU — A New Year brings with it new hopes, possibly new strategies and new football stars.
After three weeks of slumber, the Vodacom Premier League roars back into life this weekend with a mouth-watering round of action as the title race heats-up.
But apart from a potentially gripping title race, 2010 will also see four sides relegated from Lesotho’s topflight.
Over the past four seasons, the side finishing 12th — this season’s safety mark — averaged 30 points while the 13th placed team managed 28.
One side that will be hoping for a change in fortunes is Lerotholi — themselves averaging 31 points over the past four seasons.
Lihale are in 12th position on the log but haven’t tasted victory this season, since a 3-0 home win over Likhopo on October 18.
Apart from bottom sides Butha-Buthe Roses and Majantja, Lerotholi are the Premiership’s worst performing side — losing four of their last seven games.
That form sees the Fokothi outfit only three points ahead of 13th-placed Roma Rovers.
However, speaking to the Lesotho Times this week ahead of Saturday’s match against Nyenye Rovers, Lerotholi coach Naleli Tšilo remained optimistic his charges would find form in 2010.
Tšilo pointed out Lerotholi’s poor form coincided with school commitments.
“A win is always important, not just on Saturday. My aim, however, is to make sure that all the players are back and are able to train. If not, then those are problems beyond me as a coach,” Tšilo said.
Asked if the losses had sapped his side’s confidence, Tšilo said: “It depends on how we have been losing. I think there are still positives within those negatives.”
Tšilo said he would not be setting any targets.
“I don’t work that way. First, there has to be  motivation after the break. We have to take it one game at a time,” Tšilo said.
Meanwhile, Matlama defender Nkau Lerotholi believes their clash with Linare at Pitso Ground on Saturday is a must-win.
It is a match steeped in tradition — a battle between Maseru and Leribe.
“It will be a tough game. We are still way behind on the log table and we have to collect maximum points,” Lerotholi said on Monday.
After a turbulent pre-season, where he was linked with moves to Lioli and LCS among others, Lerotholi has been a tower of strength at the back for Matlama.
“I had some problems until I spoke to the president. I changed my mind (after that) and I’m very satisfied that I am at Matlama,” Lerotholi said.
Matlama were top of the league but slipped after draws in Leribe in the league ties against Mphatlalatsane and Joy.
Lerotholi said it was important to get back to winning ways against yet another Leribe side.
“We played well in the Vodacom (Soccer) Spectacular against Likhopo (semi-final) and LCS (final) but in Leribe, I think that we were tired. It was a question of fatigue,” Lerotholi said.
“But during this Christmas break, the players were able to rest. We will be ready to play.”
Also on Saturday, bottom-of-the-log Butha-Buthe Roses — with just one win and 31 goals conceded in their opening 11 matches — travel to Teyateyaneng to face champions Lioli.
Then on Sunday at Ratjomose, the league’s best home side, LDF, host the team with the best away record Joy.
In other action, former champions LCS — six points away from the top of the log — make their longest trip of the season, travelling to Mohale’s Hoek to face struggling Majantja.
Weekend fixtures:
Saturday: Matlama vs Linare (Pitso Ground); Likhopo vs Mphatlalatsane (Central Prison); Lioli vs Butha-Buthe Roses (TY); Lerotholi Polytechnic vs Nyenye Rovers (Fokothi)
Sunday: LDF vs Joy (Ratjomose); Majantja vs LCS (Mohale’s Hoek); Bantu vs Swallows (Mafeteng); Rovers vs LMPS (Roma)

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