Lioli face their biggest challenge yet when they battle Burundi giants Vital’Ô in today’s return leg of the 2016 African Champions League preliminary round away in Bujumbura.
The premier league title-holders lost the first leg tie 2-1 at Setsoto Stadium two weeks ago and need to play out of their skins to overturn the deficit and advance to the first round of the continental showcase.
A lapse in concentration saw Laudit Mavugo opening the floodgates for the tourists in the 35th minute but Junior Maba leveled matters for Tse Nala two minutes later. But it was Hussein Shaban who had the last say in the match when he struck the winner for Vital’Ô in the 46th minute and with the strike, ensured the Burundi giants carried a comfortable cushion wading into today’s match.
However, Lioli were dealt a body blow when they had to leave Maba at home after the Cameroonian could not secure a visa on time.
Maba has been in sparkling form for Lioli in recent matches and his absence would be felt as the Teyateyaneng-based outfit fight for an improbable win in the cauldron of the 22 000-seater Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium.
Before leaving on their difficult mission, Lioli coach Mosholu Mokhothu said he was hoping his charges would score early goals to unsettle their hosts.
“My boys did not come to the party in the first leg and if we are to beat Vital’Ô this time around, we need to show more commitment and score early in the match because we have to kill the game as soon as possible,” Mokhothu said.
“I know it’s not going to be easy because they will be in their own ground before their own fans. But we are prepared to give our best in the return match and hopefully make the nation proud.”
Mokhothu further said they had realized where they went wrong in the first-leg match.
“We had a meeting as a team to come up with a strategy to bring down Vital’Ô in their own backyard,” he said.
“Like I said, I feel the team was not committed enough in the first leg and allowed Vital’Ô to dictate matters hence the defeat.
“That is where we got it wrong and I don’t want to see the same thing happening again on Sunday. We have to go all out and look for an early goal to unsettle them before their own fans.”
Mokhothu added: “We made life difficult for ourselves by conceding two goals at home. We should now go and fight in Burundi, and come back with a win and place in the next round of the tournament.
“Like I said, we would want to exploit their weaknesses early in the match but our players also need to be clinical in front of goal. Without scoring goals, we can’t win the match but like I said, we believe we can advance to the next round at the expense of Vital’Ô.”