Liphakoe eye redemption against Battalion
Liphakoe are hoping to end their three-match losing streak when they face the winless Sky Battalion in battle of two struggling Econet Premier League sides scheduled for Quthing this Saturday.
The Quthing-based outfit started the season like a house on fire, but their campaign has gone from bad to worse in recent times, so much that they are now just above teams fighting for survival.
Battalion on the other hand have been at the bottom of the table since the start of the campaign and their situation has not been helped by the six points docked from them for late registration.
Speaking with the Lesotho Times, Liphakoe coach Motolo Makepa, admitted pressure has taken its toll in their camp following a run of poor results.
“We will approach the game with the same commitment and determination we demonstrated in our previous game,” Motolo said.
He explained Liphakoe were working hard to limit the mistakes made in recent games where they dropped valuable points.
Motolo said his side needed to rediscover the form they had early in the season which saw them at one stage in the top four in the league standings.
“If you look at our performance at the start of the second round, we were one of the best teams in terms of defending. Looking at the situation now, it seems failure to score is frustrating our players who in end lose concentration and weaken some areas, creating chances for our opponents.”
The error of frustration was at play when they played Matlama, he said, adding similar circumstances repeated themselves again when they played.
“Against Linare, our performance was much better, and I remember telling the players at half-time that we needed to fully utilise chances at our disposal or face the consequences that will come back to haunt us, and it turned out exactly like I had hinted.”
Motolo said in that match, the team could have walked away holding something as the players did everything right other than executing the finishing expected, which is scoring.
However, he further explained despite the poor run, the players remained committed and looking forward to working hard in training.
“I agree, there is a lot of pressure on me and the team,” he said.
The former Bantu assistant coach said he still has the backing of the club’s management despite the pressure from some supporters who have demanded his ouster.
“The management are trying to protect me, but the pressure is too much on me. I think if we can work together will emerge from trouble. We just need one win to get out of the situation and to boost the team’s confidence.”
His counterpart at Rover, Pule Khojane, who is chasing for his win after fifteen games remained buoyant saying despite lying at the dangerous bottom of the table they could rise again and survive relegation.
“We remain optimistic and still working hard to try and get our first win. I have been telling our players that we should avoid losing twice to teams that beat us in the first round,” Khojane said adding: “Of course Matlama has already managed to do that, but we will keep fighting to prevent it from happening against the teams we are yet to play against in the second round.
“Even if we get relegated, we should at least get a few points in the bag to have something when we go down.
“Hopefully that will start with Liphakoe as they are also struggling. So, we will try to capitalise on their mistakes,” he said.
The Battalion coach said his side has not given up despite their winless streak after fifteen games.
“I think somebody can look at the league standings and think that we have thrown in the towel, we have not done so yet. We remain optimistic that we can survive,” Khojane said.
He also admitted that buying the status of Sky Battalion to operate two teams at the National University was a wrong move as they were already struggling with their Rovers team that lost its top-flight football status at the end of last season.
“I think we bought the top-flight status too early after our other team got relegated from the Premier League. We were not ready, and that is why six points were docked from us for late registration.”
“Having two teams playing in two different divisions was bound to be difficult because we were already struggling with one team.”
Elsewhere on Saturday, defending league champions Bantu will hope to get back to winning ways after a demoralising 4-2 defeat in the hands of Mbabane Swallows in the CAF Champions League.
Bantu will play host to Linare who have been on-song since the start of the second round having registered two victories and a draw.
Stubborn debutants Sefotha-fotha will take on LDF in the other match this Saturday.
On Sunday, Lioli still hunting for their first win since the appointment of Morena Ramoreboli as their head coach, will travel to Mohale’s Hoek to play Majantja who registered their first win of the second round against Likhopo last Sunday.
LCS will host Kick4Life in a potentially explosive encounter as Mpitsa Marai searches for his victory of the second round against his former national team coach Leslie Notši.
Matlama will host Likhopo in the Maseru derby, also to take place on Sunday, as Tse Putsoa look to maintaining their impressive run in the second round which has taken them to second place in the Econet Premier League.
On the other hand, Likhopo are second from bottom and face a mammoth task to keep their premier league status for another season having survived the chop towards the end of the previous season.
Econet Premier League fixture
Bantu v Linare
Liphakoe v Sky Battalion
Sefotha-fotha v LDF
Majantja v Lioli
Matlama v Likhopo
LCS v Kick4Life