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Lioli host LCS in potential thriller

 

Mikia Kalati

Lioli host LCS at Setsoto Stadium this afternoon in a potentially thrilling Vodacom Premier League match.

Tse Nala are second on the 14-team table with 42 points from 19 matches, while Masheshena are one point behind them in third place from the same number of games.

Today’s match had been uncertain throughout the week because Lioli had nine players in the national team that had been scheduled to play friendly matches against Swaziland yesterday and today in Mbabane.

However, the Swaziland trip had to be cancelled at the 11th hour on Thursday after the premier league management insisted the LCS/Lioli match should go ahead today.

In response, Lioli demanded the release of their players from the touring party, which left the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) with no choice but to cancel the trip.

Both Lioli and LCS are one match behind most of their fellow premiership teams. Sundawana, Likhopo, Linare and Likila are the other teams which have also played 19 matches while the rest of the league has played 20. Each of the 14 teams play 26 matches to complete their league programmes.

Lioli coach Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu was an angry man when he spoke to the Sunday Express on Friday, insisting the uncertainty which had surrounded today’s clash meant he could not adequately prepare his team.

“What I can tell you is that even under these painful conditions, we will honour this fixture although I did not even have a chance to train with my players as nine of them were in camp with the national team for the whole week,” Mokhothu said.

“Even today, I was not sure if the players were going to come for training because surely they were as confused as us and the challenge is now to try and refocus their minds to club football once again.”

Mokhothu said what happened regarding the Swaziland tour damaged the image of the Lesotho game.

“These are the people who are expected to protect and sell this brand called football, but they are the ones destroying it,” said Mokhothu.

“What we did as a club was respect national team call-ups for our players. There was no way we were going to stand in the way of these players from representing the country.

“But at the same time, we are disappointed with the way the whole thing was handled because this is a match that is very important to us and can have a bearing on the destination of the league title.

“That aside, we will go into that match and do our best because it is a crucial game for us. We dropped vital points last weekend to lose top spot to Matlama.”

LCS coach Mpitsa Marai also said the last-minute cancellation of the Swaziland friendlies had messed-up their preparations. The Swaziland friendlies were part of Lesotho’s preparations for the back-to-back 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Seychelles scheduled for 25 and 29 March away and at home, respectively.

“It was confusing not knowing if the game would go ahead or not,” Marai said.

“The good thing is that we go into the match with a clean bill of health as far as injuries are concerned.

“This is a very important game as a win will see us go to the top of the table. Our players are in high spirits and looking forward to this very important match,” he said.

Meanwhile, Likila United host Likhopo in today’s other premier league match while Linare are at home to Sundawana at Maputsoe DIFA Ground. The Sundawana versus Linare tie complete the weekend catch-up fixtures.

Speaking about the cancelation of their trip to Swaziland, national team interim coach, Moses Maliehe, said he was disappointed as his charges badly needed the friendlies.

Although Lesotho have already lost their opening Group J qualifiers away to Ethiopia and at home against leaders Algeria, Maliehe believes the team could still qualify for the continental showcase to be held in Gabon as one of the two best runners-up. Winless Lesotho anchor the group, while Algeria are top on six points after winning both their fixtures. Ethiopia are second on four points after one win and one draw and the Seychelles are third with one draw and one loss.

“We needed to test the boys against another country, but unfortunately that failed to happen,” Maliehe said.

“It is something beyond us, but life goes on and we will continue with our training until Tuesday when we leave for the Seychelles,” he said.

No. Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Matlama 20 13 4 3 34 19 15 43
2 Lioli 19 12 6 1 30 8 22 42
3 LCS 19 12 5 2 22 7 15 41
4
Sundawana 19 9 3 7 18 18 0 30
5 Bantu 20 8 5 7 18 11 7 29
6 Likhopo 19 7 7 5 22 14 8 28
7 Kick4life 20 6 9 5 16 17 -1 27
8 LDF 20 6 8 6 20 18 2 26
9 Liphakoe 20 4 9 7 14 19 -5 21
10 LMPS 20 3 9 8 17 25 -8 18
11 Linare 19 4 5 10 18 24 -6 17
12 Rovers 20 4 5 11 13 25 -12 17
13 Likila United 19 4 5 10 13 26 -13 17
14 Mphatlalatsane 20 2 6 12 16 40 -24 12

 

 

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