Premier League log-leaders Lioli host Likila United at the PTC Ground today, hoping to rediscover the form which made them favourites for the 14-team championship only a few weeks ago.
However, a string of poor results has left pundits questioning the team’s title-credentials but coach Mosholu Mokhothu believes his charges would rise to the occasion and put the in-form rookies to the sword.
Lioli top the log with 39 points, while Likila are sixth and have 26 points, and both teams have played 16 matches.
However, Mokhothu on Friday told Sunday Express that the problem with his side has been lack of goals, which he said he had since rectified.
“Actually, we have been playing better this year compared to the first round, which ended in December. Our movement with the ball has been brilliant but the problem has been failure to score.
“The players have been losing composure once inside the penalty area, resulting in failure to convert a lot of clear chances.
“I think that goalless draw against Sundawana in our first match of the second round last month, affected the players so much and they have not been the same ever since. But we have been working on their mentality and finishing this week, and I am confident they will start scoring once again on Sunday.”
Mokhothu admitted he was under pressure to get results and desperately needs to win today’s tie.
“The players understand the situation we find ourselves in, and that Lioli is a big team whose fans expect better all the time. That is why they protested after our loss against LCS last weekend; they are very demanding but I don’t think this is going to panic the players.
“However, after talking to the boys this week, and working on their finishing, I believe they will be in fine form when we face Likila on Sunday.”
The Lioli mentor, however, admits Likila are a good team and beating them would not be that easy.
“Likila might not have big names in their squad but they play good football,” Mokhothu said. “They have been doing exceptionally well so Sunday’s match is not going to be easy. That is why we will treat them with utmost respect but at the same time, hope to get the maximum three points at their expense.”
Mokhothu further said he was not worried about what the other teams were doing but only how his team could return to winning ways.
“We are not worried about the teams behind us on the log. We are focusing on our own game and the matches ahead because there is still a long way to go before the league campaign comes to a close.”
On his part, Likila spokesperson Khabo Phahlake said Lioli were in for a hiding in today’s tie.
“It is not going to be an easy match for us but we are going to capitilise on the fact that they have been struggling of late,” Phahlake said.
“Playing a team as big as Lioli is motivation enough for the players, so fans must come to the stadium expecting to see a very exciting game.”
In another league match scheduled for today, Mphatlalatsane host Likhopo at St Monica’s Ground while the struggling Qoaling Highlanders will welcome Bantu in a LNIG Top8 2nd leg quarterfinal at LCS Ground.