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Lioli face Matlama in epic final


Liphakoe midfielder Mohau Rammoneng (left)tackles Lioli midfielder Obakeng Modirwa (right) in Alliance Winter Challenge yesterdayMoorosi Tsiane

Lioli face Matlama in the much-anticipated final of the Alliance Winter Challenge set for Setsoto Stadium.

Tse Nala were the first to book a spot in today’s decisive tie after demolishing Liphakoe 3-1 in the early semifinal, while Matlama registered a hard-fought 1-0 win against LCS in the second semi played at Setsoto.

A first-half brace from Lioli’s new acquisition, Tumelo Khutlang, and a simple tap-in from Nkoto Masoabi carried the day for the reigning league champions, with second-half substitute Janki Tsoeu  scoring the consolation goal for the Quthing-based outfit.

Meanwhile, Jane Thabantso nodded home Matlama’s solitary goal after LCS goalkeeper Sam Ketsekile had failed to deal with Nkesi Rankhasa’s cross on the hour-mark.

Lioli coach, Mosholu Mokhothu, said he was happy with his side’s form against the premiership rookies but warned it would not be that easy to beat Matlama in today’s final.

“We had a good game today and I am happy for my players because we featured some new faces in the team, who did very well although we still need to do some touch-ups here and there.

“It is never easy playing Matlama, be it a Cup or league match, so we all understand the challenge we are facing in the final. However, I am confident that we will come out winners in the final,” said Mokhothu.

The Lioli mentor however, warned his players to be mentally strong if they are to beat the crowd-pulling Matlama.

“Before we played this match today, we received very disturbing news of the passing away of our communications and marketing manager, ntate Moeketsi Pitso. But the players showed character and fought hard regardless of the sad news. We must maintain the same fighting spirit and focus on the match tomorrow because we have to win this Cup for him,” Mokhothu said.

On his part, new Matlama coach, Moses Maliehe, hailed his team for adapting so quickly to his tactics.

“We did not score many goals like we anticipated but I am happy with what I saw today. I am new here and also trying to introduce new players and a new style of play. It seems the boys are adapting quite well, which is a good sign of things to come,” said Maliehe.

Maliehe, who was Lioli technical director in the 2013/14 season, further revealed he would be fielding a new team today and supporters should expect a different ball-game altogether.

“Things will be different tomorrow. I will be fielding a different team and I am confident my boys will fight for the silver which will be great motivation before the league starts next weekend,” Maliehe said.

The Alliance Winter Challenge, which was introduced this season, features teams sponsored by Alliance Insurance and one invited by the trio.

LCS, Matlama and Lioli are all sponsored by the insurance giant. Although there is no prize money for the winners, all the team participating would be sharing the gate-takings from this inaugural event.

Meanwhile, in addition to the final, LCS and Liphakoe would battle it out for third place, while the day’s proceedings start with an international friendly between the national women’s football team, Mehalalitoe and Swaziland.

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