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Football fans in for a treat

 

Moorosi Tsiane

Football fans are in for a treat this afternoon as LCS Ground hosts a double-header featuring Qoaling Highlanders and Matlama, and later LCS versus Linare, while Lioli face  Likhopo at Setsoto Stadium.

Highlanders coach Wright Mofoka, whose team is struggling for form and is second from bottom on the 14-team Vodacom Premiership table, says losing today’s match would further compound his problems.

“This is a very important match to us; we desperately need those three points to get out of the relegation zone, which is why we cannot afford a defeat come Sunday. The players understand why we should not lose the match and are in good shape to beat Matlama,” said Mofoka, who attributed the poor start to the season to the absence of key players due to injury.

“We did not start the season well because we lost seven key players at the start of the season, but we are now getting there and I think we have what it takes to cause an upset on Sunday.

“We drew against Nyenye Rovers last weekend, which proved that we are getting better but we have to work hard on our attack because lack of goals has been letting us down for some time now.”

However, Matlama coach, Ndebele ‘Tata Mocholene’ Taole, warned Highlanders to expect a super-charged Tse Putsoa this afternoon.

“We prepared well for this match and all the players are raring to go. We are not prepared to settle for anything less than a win on Sunday. We want the three points badly because that would ensure we stay with the leading teams in the league as we gun for the championship,” Taole said.

Taole acknowledged Highlanders would not be pushovers, but insisted they would not be able to contain his charges who are eighth on the Premiership table.

“There are no small teams in the Premier League, so we are going to show Highlanders the respect they deserve. Our approach will be the same; we will go into the match respecting our opponents but looking to get all the points.”

Linare coach, Freese Ntene, on his part, said facing LCS, who are seventh on the table, would be a big test for his sixth-placed charges.

“We did not have a good start to the season, but are in a better position now. There is a lot of pressure for us to do well, and we are prepared to fight to win this match. There are certain things which coaches need to understand in order to know their players better and that is the key to the good performance we have been showing since I took over a few games into the current season, when the team was in the bottom half of the table.

“Players come from different backgrounds so that means you cannot treat them the same if you really want results, so I always try to understand my players so that I can get the best out of them,” Ntene said.

The former Mpharane Celtics and Joy FC mentor said as much as LCS are a good team, this did not make them invincible.

“LCS have good and experienced players. They use their physique and height a lot but we are  prepared for them. It is not going to be easy to beat them in their own backyard, but we are going to do it all the same.”

But LCS coach Katiso Mojakhomo believes Linare would be no match for his side.

“Rain disrupted our preparations coming into this match but I believe playing at home will be an advantage to us. We will collect maximum points on Sunday because we have to stay in the title-race, and that can only be achieved through defeating our opponents week in and week out,” Mojakhomo said.

Meanwhile, Lioli coach, Mosholu Mokhothu, told the Sunday Express his team, placed third on the table, are ready for 12th placed Likhopo.

“Likhopo are going to come at us like a wounded tiger; they have not been playing well and that is what makes them more dangerous, but were are fully prepared to take them on,” Mokhothu said.

“If history is anything to go by, you will realise that matches between these two teams are always fiercely contested but my boys are all in good shape except Lekhanya Lekhanya and Teboho Lekhooa, who are still injured,” Mokhothu said, adding however, that the fact Lioli are two matches  behind the rest of the teams has put them under a lot of pressure. Lioli’s matches were being postponed as the team had seven players in the national squad, which was taking part in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers which ended two weeks ago.

“This issue of games in hand does not work at all; it is not an advantage. What it only does is pile more pressure on us as the leading teams are winning and extending the points gap. It is always tough to chase teams that have collected more points than us,” said Mokhothu.

On his part, Likhopo assistant coach, Tšeliso Mofolo, said his team’s struggles are now a thing of the past.

“We started with almost half of our regulars out with injuries and that affected us badly but they are all back now so the team has taken shape once again.

“We are a good side, hence my confidence that we will beat Lioli on Sunday. We know them very well, and they are not much of a threat to us,” Mofolo said.

“By the end of the first round of the league campaign, we must be among the top eight teams, at least, which is why a win will be very important for us on Sunday.”

In other league matches scheduled for today, ninth-placed Sundawana host fifth-placed Kick4Life in Butha-Buthe, while basement side LMPS welcome 11th placed Nyenye Rovers at PTC Ground.

 

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