Lioli warm up to league battle

MASERU — Four teams go into the weekend matches to make a date with destiny. By Saturday evening, the first two sides in this year’s Vodacom Soccer Spectacular semi-finals will be known. They too will be a step closer to the M360 000 grand prize.
In Saturday’s main match at Matsieng, Likhopo face Lioli holding a 2-1 advantage, the lead boosted by the two, first-leg away goals.
“Lioli want to change the status-quo; they want to eliminate us but we won’t let that happen. We don’t want to go out of this competition,” Likhopo manager Qamako Mahao told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday.
“We are aware of the psychological warfare that has been launched by Lioli. They beat Majantja 4-0 on Sunday and we only beat Majantja 4-3 the last time we played them. But the Lioli results from the weekend have no bearing on the game and they won’t have any effect on us.”
The super-sub in that last match three weekends ago, Motlalepula ‘Matli, pulled a hamstring in the romp and has been unable to play since. But Mahao said he was hopeful the new-found weapon would play this weekend.
“He has rested and should be fine. Thabo (Masualle) dealt easily with Thapelo (Tale) in the last game but Matli is going to give him a run for his money,” Mahao said.
Even so, ‘Matli is expected to start Saturday’s match from the bench but captain Nyakhane Nyakhane — who was injured in the first leg — is expected to return.
“We are expecting Lioli to go all out and attack us from the start but we are going to fight fire with fire,” Mahao said. “If you attack, it means you open-up at the back. The thing about Lioli is their defenders and midfielders are the ones who score. We want them to come out.”
In particular, Mahao pointed to Lioli’s attacking fullback Mohapi Ntobo. He scored in Lioli’s 4-0 league win over Majantja at the weekend.
“That is the side where Bokang Mothoana will be. On the other side, they use Lereko Matsipa; he is our former player and we know his weaknesses,” Mahao said.
Mahao also said Likhopo’s relative young age would not matter. “All the players that are going to play are internationals, so there will be no element of stage-fright. The excitement will not be a reason to lose on Saturday; it will come down to the management and players of both teams,” Mahao said.
Lioli go into the fixture knowing they have to score at least twice to have any chance of making it to the next round because of the away-goals rule.
“It won’t be an easy game at all. Likhopo have the advantage,” Lioli coach Mosholi Mokhothu said. “We know that they will try to hit us on the counter-attack, so we will have to be careful. Fortunately, we are used to this; all teams we play are set up that way and we are aware of it. The most important thing for us will be to eliminate those mistakes that cost us in the first leg.”
Meanwhile, coach Thabiso Masiu says Manamela will beat LDF 2-0 in their Vodacom Soccer Spectacular quarterfinal, second-leg clash on Saturday.
Masiu is taking comfort from the first division minnows’, first-leg performance against the army side.
“I think I know how much we are going to beat LDF by; we are going to win 2-0,” Masiu told the Lesotho Times on Tuesday. “We still have hope, based on how LDF performed in the first leg. We have worked on our mistakes; we have also seen LDF’s weaknesses and we are hoping to capitalise.”
Manamela put up a decent showing in the first leg in Butha-Buthe three weekends ago, only to concede a late Malefetsane Pheko goal.
“The problem is we didn’t attack LDF as much as we wanted to in the first match. But we are not under any pressure at all. It is them who are under pressure because they are a Premier League side,” Masiu said.
“Manamela will be very fired up,” LDF’s public relations officer, Donny Ntakha said.
“We have to show that they are a small team.”

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