Lioli can do the unthinkable in Zim

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Mikia Kalati

LIOLI head to Zimbabwe on Sunday face Caps United and the enormity of the task that awaits them on Sunday as they seek to overcome the odds and progress to the first round proper of the CAF Champions League cannot be overemphasised.

But in all honesty, it should not have been this difficult and should they fail the test, Tse Nala will surely look back to the failure to make the fullest use of home advantage last Saturday as one of the turning points.

It is not like Caps United are continental heavyweights as this is only their fourth appearance in this tournament and they have never gone beyond the second round.

In fact their last appearance came exactly 11 years ago and only one of current crop, captain Hardlife Zvirekwi is a national team player at the moment, meaning most of the squad lacks international experience.

This is also a team which is still short of match fitness as the Zimbabwean soccer season which ended in December is only set to commence in March.

What I am saying is that while difficult, Lioli’s is certainly not an impossible task.

But having said that, my worry is that our teams have failed to rise to the occasion when they play away from home.

But I think Tse Nala have the character and quality to finally end this hoodoo when they play away from home.

Luckily I watched all our representatives in this competition over the last eight years and all of them were eliminated not because they could not match their opponents, but simply for failing to take the chances that came their way.

Talk about LCS’s back to back appearances in the competition under Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu and Bantu under Motlatsi Shale as well as Lioli last year- the story has been the same-that of failing to score goals especially at home.

None of our clubs actually faced Africa’s powerhouses.

LCS came against Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and Dynamos from Zimbabwe in the two years they played continental football and their Achilles Heel was the failure to put away chances.

Then came Bantu who were eliminated on a 1-0 aggregate score by Mangasport three years ago.

The one goal that separated the two teams was scored in the first leg match in Gabon and Bantu failed to break down the Gabonese side when they hosted them at Setsoto stadium.

It was the same story for Lioli last year as they allowed Burundian side Vital’O to dictate matters in Lesotho in the first leg match winning 2-0.

That meant that Tse Nala had a mountain to climb going to Burundi as the needed to score three goals to advance and they could only manage one after Jerry Kamela netted from the penalty spot for a 1-0 victory.

I do not know whether it is just stage fright but whatever it is, something has to give if we are to go far in international matches.

Our clubs need to be aggressive especially when they play at home because it is always tougher playing away.

In the case of Lioli, I really feel that they made a big blunder letting go of strikers, Thapelo Tale and Nkoto Masoabi and failing to make like-for-like replacements in terms of quality or even better.

They lacked options that could have given them something better on Saturday as they could only manage a goalless draw at home.

The same Tale is now banging goals for fun at Kick4Life even netting back-to-back braces at some stage.

Tale is a type of player that needs to be properly managed in order to get the best out of him and that is where Lioli failed and now they are short in the striking department ahead of their second leg.

Despite all this challenges, I hope coach Halemakale Mahlaha and his charges will produce the performance of their lives to qualify for the next phase of the continental competition.

It would be one of the memorable footballing moments if Tse Nala can pass the test against the Zimbabwean champions.

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