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FOOTBALL FIESTA

Pascalinah Kabi

 MASERU — South African Premier League side Free State Stars will be in town next weekend to play local champions Matlama and Likhopo in pre-season tune-up matches.

Free State Stars are scheduled to face Matlama on Saturday before taking on Likhopo the following day.

The venues for the two matches are yet to be announced.

All the teams will use the matches to prepare for their respective domestic seasons, with Matlama likely to find the tune-up crucial ahead of their participation in the African Champions League.

The South African 2010/2011 Absa Premier League season starts on August 28 while the local Vodacom Premier League’s kick-off date is yet to be announced.

The international friendly between Likhopo and Free State Stars has become a tradition over the years.

“We always play against them every time before the season starts. Either they come to us or we visit them,” Likhopo team manager Qamako Mahao told the Sunday Express.

“We are basically preparing for Premier League action which will soon start both locally and in South Africa.”

Mahao said they had decided to involve Matlama in next weekend’s action to give the local champions a run against international opposition ahead of their Africa safari.

“The matches were organised by Likhopo but we decided to award Matlama this friendly because, as local champions, they need it as they prepare for the Champions League,” Mahao said.

“We believe they will benefit from this international friendly.”

Meanwhile, Mahao said Likhopo were ready for the forthcoming season.

Likhopo, league champions in 2005 and 2006, finished seventh last season.

“Honestly we are in good shape and we are ready for both Sunday’s friendly and the Premier League matches,” Mahao said.

“So far we have not signed any new players but we are ready and fit for the new season.”

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