Lioli take preseason preps to SA

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CHAMPIONS! LIOLI Players hoisting the Vodacom Premier League Trophy after a long campaign at Setsoto Stadium
CHAMPIONS! LIOLI Players hoisting the Vodacom Premier League Trophy after a long campaign at Setsoto Stadium

Mikia Kalati

Premier league champions Lioli are on preseason tour in South Africa where they faced Orlando Pirates in Johannesburg yesterday and meet SuperSport United today in another high-profile friendly match.

Tse Nala left Lesotho on Monday this week as the Mosholu Mokhothu-coached giants intensify preparations ahead of a busy 2015/16 Vodacom Premier League season.

In addition to domestic competitions, Lioli would be representing Lesotho in the 2016 African Champions League tournament and Mokhothu is leaving no stone unturned as he gears-up for the monumental challenge ahead.

Lioli communications and marketing manager, Moeketsi Pitso, on Monday told the Lesotho Times that the tour was also supposed to include a match against National First Division side African Warriors tomorrow to ensure the team is ready to defend their league title.

“We felt going out of the country to play teams of this calibre would help us prepare well before the new season gets underway,” Pitso said on Monday.

“Our team is going to have a very busy season and it’s important that we get used to playing against top sides such as Pirates and SuperSport.”

According to Pitso, Lioli were initially scheduled to play three matches in South Africa before African Warriors pulled out of the series.

“We will play the first match of the tour against Orlando Pirates on Wednesday and then face SuperSport in Pretoria on Thursday. We are now coming back on Friday since African Warriors have pulled out of the tournament,” said Pitso.

“Preseason is a very important phase for any serious football team and at Lioli, we believe that going on this tour will be massive for us in terms of preparations and boosting players’ morale.”

Meanwhile, Pitso has revealed that Lioli are no longer sure former Likhopo goalkeeper, Kananelo Makhooane, would be joining the club.

“No decision has been taken on the goalkeeper and it looks unlikely that he will be signing for us for the upcoming season,” he said.

The Lioli spokesperson also confirmed veteran goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane travelled to South Africa with the rest of the squad despite rumours that he wanted to leave the four-time league champions.

Kuenane had been the team’s first-choice keeper over the years but struggled for game-time last season as the coaches preferred Liteboho Mokhehle for the starting role. Mokhehle, who was in sparkling form last season, was then rewarded with the 2014/15 premier league goalkeeper of the season award.

Tse Nala begin their league title-defence against Sundawana on 8 August and Pitso said he was confident of a positive result against the ambitious Butha-Buthe outfit to send the “right tone” for a successful campaign.

Mokhothu’s charges would also be hoping to defend their Independence Cup title, with the annual competition set for the first week of October.

Bantu, LCS and Matlama are the other teams set to battle-it-out with Lioli in the competition sponsored by Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho.

The tournament involves premier league teams that would have finished in the top-four the previous season.

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