Mafoso readies for Lioli test
BRAGGING rights will be at stake this afternoon when arch rivals Bantu and Lioli clash in the Vodacom Premier League match at Setsoto Stadium.
Bantu go into the match sitting comfortably at the summit of the 16-team league table with a solid seven matches winning record while Lioli are second with 17 points having played two more than Bantu.
The two sides last met in 2020 with Bantu coming out 2-0 winners. Hlompho Kalake and Lehlohonolo Fothoane scored on the day.
Bob Mafoso’s outfit has not lost a game in the last 26 league outings. The side last lost to LMPS in 2019.
But Mafoso conceded that this would be one of the toughest matches for his side. It is also worsened by the need to continue with their fine run.
“It’s not going to be an easy game because the sides are rivals,” Mafoso said.
“This is also a game of supporters and we must get things right tactically. Lioli will be dangerous on the back of two draws and surely they will want to turn the corner but we are ready for the challenge.”
While Lioli has been active in the last two weeks, Bantu was missing several players who were on national duty with Likuena in Mozambique. That is Mafoso’s cause for worry.
“They have played two more games than us because our players were away with Likuena. That might affect our momentum but on the other hand, we have also rested, so they will find us stronger. We will be assessing our players who were with Likuena until tomorrow (yesterday).
“The players have been responding positively and that is promising. We are satisfied with the performance in our past matches but this one will be a true test.
“It is a game which can give us a true reflection of how good we are, so we will be happy if we show some dominant display on this one both tactically and by winning,” Mafoso said.
On the other hand, Lioli coach Mosholi Mokhothu said the game will require more than just tactical preparation.
“It is one of the biggest encounters in our league and it takes more than just tactical preparations to win it. There is a big rivalry between the two teams, so we must be strong mentally. The strongest team on the day will win the match.
“We must get things right in all departments,” Mokhothu said.
‘Shoes’, as Mokhothu is popularly known, said it was important for his side to win the match if they are to remain title contenders.
“We must win because if we are to challenge for the title, we will have to beat the teams that are also challenging for the title with. The morale is high and it is motivating to see the hunger from the players.
“They haven’t lost a match, haven’t drawn this season, so they will not want to lose that run but at the same time, we are looking forward to putting an end to it,” said Mokhothu.
He bemoaned injuries which have left him with a thin squad.
“We only have 19 players and three are out injured but we believe in those who are available,” said Mokhothu.
In the first of a double header at Setsoto Stadium, Matlama will welcome Lijabatho.
Sefotha-fotha will also welcome Lifofane at Ratjomose Ground.
Swallows will be at home against Manonyane in Nyakosoba while on song Linare will host Likhopo at Maputsoe DIFA Ground.
Kick4Life will host Liphakoe in the first of two games at LCS Ground. The second game will see LCS clashing LMPS.
LDF will travel to Hlotse LAC Ground to face CCX.