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Bantu, Linare clash in Hlotse

Mikia Kalati

MASERU — Bantu and Linare will both have plenty to play for when the two teams clash in a Vodacom premier league tie in Hlotse this afternoon.
The match is a must-win for the Mafeteng-based Bantu who trail log leaders Lioli by two points in the race for the league title.
Linare coach, Thulo Leboela, however told the Sunday Express on Friday that Bantu should not expect any favours from his team.
“Yes, it true that we are not in the championship and are already out in the contest for the top four battle, but every game is important to us as a team and we want to finish this campaign in a respectable position,” Leboela said.
“They (Bantu) will have to sweat for the three points.”
The Linare legend who took over the coaching reins at the start of the season said his team will be a formidable force next season.
“I’m happy with the progress I have seen since I took over as the coach and believe that we will have a team challenging for honours next season,” said Leboela.
Linare, one of the biggest teams in the country, has gone for close to three decades without a league title and Leboela said he has been able to identify the weaknesses that have caused lack of silverware over the years.
Bantu’s public relations officer, Bokang Phasumane, said people will see a different side to the one that struggled to win in their last three matches.
A Matšo Matebele, as Bantu are affectionately known, have lost their top position to rivals Lioli following defeats to LDF and LCS and a draw against Matlama.
“Sunday’s match against Linare is very important to us as failure to come up with a win could be the end of everything for us,” Phasumane said.
“The players know the importance of this crucial encounter and they are physically and mentally fit to fight for the club.”
He said defender, Thapelo Mokhehle, is still serving suspension and will miss the tie against Linare after being red carded in the defeat to LCS a fortnight ago.
Midfielder Pali Tšalong could also miss the match due to injury.
Phasumane attributed his team’s recent poor form to a protest against them by rivals Lioli, over the controversial big January signing of last season’s top goal scorer Tšalong.
“The protest broke the team apart, our playing staff lost focus and it affected them mentally as they felt they could lose all their hard work,” said Phasumane.
Elsewhere, Lioli have to beat Mpharane Celtic to also keep alive their hopes of clinching the league title.
Another slip-up by Bantu in today’s match could see Lioli being crowned this year’s Vodacom premier league champions.
The fight for top flight football status also goes to the wire this afternoon as Joy, Qoaling Highlanders, Celtic and Nyenye Rovers are all in danger of having to fight for their premier league place in the playoffs at the end of the season.
Likhopo host LDF in another potentially explosive encounter as Motlatsi Shale’s star studded side eye an impressive finish to the season.
LCS, who have failed to defend their league title, could also nail a top four finish with a win over Matlama as the former league champions meet at the Lesotho Correctional Service Ground.

Vodacom premier league fixtures
Linare v Bantu
Mpharane v Lioli
Nyenye Rovers v Qoaling Highlanders
LCS v Matlama
Joy v LMPS
Likhopo v LDF

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