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Bantu vow to end first round in style

by Sunday Express
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Moorosi Tsiane

Second-placed Bantu have vowed to end the first round of the season on a high note when they host Linare in a potentially thrilling Vodacom Premier League match scheduled for Seeiso Leshoboro Stadium in Mafeteng this afternoon.

Bantu have played 12 matches of the 2014/15 football season—two more than Lioli who top the 14-team Premier League table.

With the first round 13 matches long, today’s match against Linare would be Bantu’s last for 2014 and the first round, and club spokesperson, Bokang Phasumane, says nothing short of maximum points is being expected from the fixture.

The Mafeteng-based outfit beat Mphatlalatsane 3-0, while Linare suffered a 0-1 loss to LCS in the teams’ last fixtures.

But according to Phasumane, today’s tie would be different ballgame altogether hence last weekend’s results would count for nothing.

“The team is now gelling well; the results are finally showing so we will be out to wrap-up our first round of the season with a win on Sunday,” Phasumane said on Friday.

“We have not been defeated at home this season, so I don’t see how we can start now.”

However, Linare coach, Lehlohonolo ‘Freese’ Ntene, believes his charges are good enough to beat Bantu in their own backyard.

“It is not going to be an easy match looking at the calibre of the team that we will be playing against. Bantu are a good side with quality players, but that does not mean we cannot beat them. We are not aiming for anything less than three points when we face them in their own backyard,” he said.

Ntene admitted last weekend’s loss to LCS had broken his charges’ momentum, but vowed to continue focusing on the job at hand to end the first round in a respectable position. Linare were ninth on the table after 11 games before yesterday’s round of league matches.

“Things don’t always go as you expect them to, but the fact that we lost to LCS last weekend must not hold us back. If anything, the defeat was a wakeup call for us to remain committed and continue to work hard. Bantu need more focused opponents who can absorb the pressure they  continue piling for the entire 90 minutes. I watched their last three matches, which they won in the second half after their opponents had lost focus, and we should ensure we don’t fall into the same trap and get similar punishment.”

Ntene lamented the absence of key players due to different reasons, which he said forced him to field new and inexperienced youngsters.

“I am still building a team here because most of the senior players are not available for many of the games due to different commitments so I am trying to introduce new blood into the team.

“It is always important to win every match but playing Bantu, like I said, will not be a walk in the park because they are the defending league champions and have quality players. But like I said, we can beat them if we manage to remain focused the entire match,” said Ntene.

In another league match scheduled for this afternoon, 12th placed Likhopo would be out for a second successive win when they host LCS at LCS Ground. After a lengthy lean spell, Likhopo crushed Qoaling Highlanders 5-1 at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on Wednesday evening. Assistant coach, Tšeliso Mofolo, insists Likhopo come into this afternoon’s match more motivated following the midweek goal-feast against Highlanders.

“Wednesday’s win will be a motivation to the players going into this match. We really need to win all our remaining matches because we did not start the season well,” Mofolo said.

“We are aware of the danger that LCS pose on their day, and the fact that they lost their last match 2-0 against Lioli makes them even more dangerous.

“Still, we are prepared to take them on, and win our second successive match.”

On his part, LCS coach Katiso Mojakhomo said the players would be hoping to atone for the Lioli embarrassment when they clash with Likhopo.

“We lost against Lioli on Wednesday but that is now water under the bridge, so we will be going into this match with our heads high. We will win the match because everyone is looking to bounce back as quickly as possible,” Mojakhomo said.

In another league match set for this afternoon, Likila United will be out to register their fifth league win of the season when they host struggling Mphatlalatsane at Pitso Ground in Butha-Buthe.

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