Teya-teyaneng — It was supposed to be a Moshoeshoe’s Day fest but in the end of Friday’s match between great rivals Lioli and Matlama was a bit of an anti-climax.
Tse Nala and Tse Putsoa played to a goalless draw in Teyateyaneng, a result that neither harmed nor boosted their respective Vodacom Premier League hopes.
Their respective performances however will have provided more questions than answers as they enter the business end of the campaign.
Lioli, judging by murmurs in their maroon crowd, are now fighting against relegation – period.
With four teams facing the dreaded chop this year it is far from being impossible.
Tse Nala had gone into the game in unfamiliar territory, 10th on the log and just a point above the relegation zone.
Matlama, reborn since the arrival of Mahao Matete as coach, are chasing an unprecedented 10th league championship.
The first half however was surprisingly characterised by a lack of urgency as if both sets of players were afraid of making mistakes.
Still, Matlama, buoyed by the confidence of being unbeaten since November, were slightly better and orchestrated by rising star Phafa Tšosane made the more composed start.
However each time Matlama manufactured good positions up the field they were too ponderous and allowed Lioli’s defence to regroup and reshape.
Without injured new signing Teboho Nthako, Lioli are finding it hard to get goals, while the absence of injured playmaker Motlalepula Mofolo has reduced the prowess of the midfield.
Tse Nala had to wait until the 43rd minute for a real chance.
It was a good one, winger Montoeli Sonopo teed up an unmarked Bafokeng Mosala, but the striker lobbed the ball wide.
The second half invariably saw an increase in tempo.
But Lioli’s poor pitch and the windy, dusty conditions didn’t help. The game, although more intense, was still fractured with both teams struggling
Matlama thought they had taken the lead in the 65th minute when Chabeli stabbed Hlomelang Theko’s shot into the net, but the striker had strayed offside.
The close shave stunned Lioli into action; Sonopo had a shot flash agonisingly wide in the 70th minute.
Three minutes later the elusive Sonopo jinked his way into the box, but Matlama’s defence which has only conceded seven goals all season continuously dealt well with the danger.
Lioli had loud penalty claims waved away in the 84th minute and that was that.
The Battle of Lesotho shared.
Matlama moved up to fifth with 22 points, eight behind leaders LCS with a game in hand.
Tse Putsoa face Likhopo on Wednesday.
Matlama mentor Matete said: “I’m not satisfied we didn’t play well our penetration and direction was not there. The chance of winning the league is still there. If we win all our games in hand we will win the league.”
Lioli remain in 10th place only two points above the drop zone.
Today Tse Nala face Joy.
“We played well and we deserved to win but again the goals were the problem. Where we are is not where Lioli is supposed to be,” Tse Nala coach Thabile Secker said after the match.
In Mafeteng, Bantu’s title hopes took a dent as they suffered their first defeat of the season going down 2-1 to Likhopo.
Likhopo’s goals came courtesy of Lekhanya Lekhanya and Makara Ntaitsane while A Matšo Matebele’s sole goal came from a Tefo Maipato free-kick.
The game was Bantu’s game in hand and it removed their advantage and while Likhopo move to seventh, still in with a sniff of winning the league.