MASERU — How times have changed!
At this stage last year, Lioli were top of the league standings and largely expected to win a second consecutive championship.
But as things stand today, the Teyateyaneng giants are only four points above basement side Mabeoana and could find themselves fighting relegation.
On Sunday, Lioli were held to another disappointing goalless draw by struggling Lerotholi at the Central Prison.
The result left Tse Nala languishing in ninth place on the Vodacom Premier League table — closer to the relegation zone than the title race.
When they host surprise package Maduma this Saturday, Lioli know anything less than a win could rule them out of the title race altogether.
Lioli’s record so far has been poor, with just two wins from eight matches.
The Teyateyaneng giants have struggled to score goals, managing just nine so far.
Meanwhile, champions Matlama got their season back on track with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Swallows on Sunday.
Tse Putsoa are in seventh place on 10 points, still 11 points behind leaders Linare but with two games in hand.
This weekend the Glamour Boys host third-placed Bantu at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena as renovations continue at their Pitso Ground base.
Bantu have made a solid start to the season, garnering 17 points from eight games and are being touted as title contenders this season.
Matlama coach Mahao “Bomba” Matete said Saturday’s clash was a must-win game.
“I haven’t seen them, but I hear that they have many good players mostly from Likhopo,” Matete said of their opponents this weekend.
“It’s definitely a must-win game.”
“To defend the title we have to beat the sides at the top,” he added.
“It’s a six-pointer because if you win you gain three points and they gain no points.”
Matete said he had worked his side’s fitness during the festive break.
“Our self-imposed pre-season has helped us a lot on physical conditioning and working on the players’ mentality after all the problems with money,” he said.
However, Matete revealed that the Caf Champions League, where Matlama face South Africa’s Supersport United, was his main concern.
“My focus is on that game. These league matches are a second priority,” he said.
Only six points separate the top five sides in the Vodacom Premier League and two of the early pacesetters lock horns when LDF host Linare at Ratjomose.
LDF, in second place on 19 points, boast the league’s only unbeaten record and would leapfrog Linare with a win.
In what is an intriguing weekend of premiership action, fourth-placed LMPS host fifth-placed LCS at Old Europa.