MASERU — Two late strikes by super sub Motlalepula ‘Matli handed Likhopo a 2-1 win over Lioli in a replay of their Vodacom Soccer Spectacular quarter-final, first leg tie yesterday.
The random nature of this Soccer Spectacular means Lioli will now have to score at least twice in the second leg in two weeks time to have any chance of progressing because they were hosting at Ratjomose.
Nonetheless, Tse Nala will be glad for Sello Muso’s injury-time goal, which keeps them in the tie.
For Likhopo, it all went perfectly as illustrated by the stunning impact of ‘Matli, who hit an inventive overhead kick in the 85th minute before superbly placing his shot past a sprawling Esaiah Mosala four minutes later.
The excellence of the goals was probably in keeping with the overall quality of a game between Lesotho’s champions and the country’s best-coached team.
Despite the uneven nature of the pitch and the hot sun, both sides adopted their traditional passing games.
Bokang Mothoana, making his first start for Likhopo since his return from Tunisia, was particularly accomplished in midfield.
Lioli were also comfortable in possession but they took too long on the ball, with Malebanye Ramoabi the main culprit.
But if the first half lacked chances, the second was a rollercoaster ride — it was as if someone had reminded the sides that M360 000 was at stake.
After no shot attempts at goal in the first half, the game came to life in the second.
In the 62nd minute, Mokone Marabe headed over from a free-header after Thapelo Tale had dragged a good chance wide three minutes earlier.
With the game opening-up, Lioli’s Nthejane Seenyane then missed a one-on-one sitter in the 70th minute, before Relebohile Rautsi smacked a neat flick against the near post in a Likhopo counter-raid seconds later.
Then a minute later, a bulldozing run and cross from a blue-booted ‘Muso caused havoc in the Likhopo box.
But just when it seemed all the chances would amount to nothing, up popped super ‘Matli to deflate Lioli’s large faithful.
Teams: Lioli: Esaiah Mosala 6 – Mohapi Ntobo 6, Brown Makobe 6, Thabo Masualle 7, Lereko Matsipa 6 – Teboho Nkabane 7, Thabile Secker 7, Malebanye Ramoabi 6, Lekhotso Morapeli 5 (Bafokeng Mosala 68th 7) – Seenyane Nthejane 6, Thabo Phomane 6 (Sello ‘Muso 46th 7)
Likhopo: Kananelo Makhooane 6 – Selbone Lekhooa 7, Rethabile Nkoe 6, Maphelle Ngoako 7, Tsepo George 7– Nyakhane Nyakhane 6 (Lekhanya Lekhanya 74th 7), Relebohile Rautsi 7, Bokang Mothoana 8, Shalane Lehohla 6 –Mokone Marabe 6 (Motlalepula ‘Matli 72nd 8), Thapelo Tale 7.
Man of the match: Bokang Mothoana