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Lioli ready for crucial tie

Teboho Molapo


MASERU — Lioli skipper Thabo Masualle says the league champions are prepared for their crucial premiership league encounter with LMPS this afternoon.

Lioli, second on the log with 42 points, go into the fixture knowing they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they are to retain their title after picking up just four points from their last three matches.

Last season, Tse Nala were trailing LDF at a similar stage but embarked on a stunning run of eight wins and a draw to pip the army side to the championship.

A similar sequence of results will be needed again if Lioli are to challenge pacesetters Matlama, who headed into the weekend’s action four points clear.

Lioli will have to begin their title-charge today against hoodoo side, LMPS.

The Teyateyaneng side have not beaten Simunye in three years — a run of nine matches, including crushing defeats in 2008’s Imperial Top 8 and last year’s MGC Supa 8.

In the first round match on October 10, 2009 LMPS beat Tse Nala 1-0 thanks to Mokhethi Matšora’s 84th minute goal, in a match Lioli completely dominated.

However, Masualle told the Sunday Express the champions were ready to turn the record around.

“We are well-prepared and looking forward to getting all three points. But football is football and anything can happen,” Masualle said.

“We still want it (revenge). They have dominated us in the past and to beat LMPS would be an important achievement.”

Masualle said Lioli were not panicking to be trailing Matlama but conceded they could not afford to drop points in the run-in and that they could not expect any favours.

“We still have confidence; we can win the championship.

“From now onwards what we need is an outright win and at worst a draw. A loss is not something we would want to be thinking about,” Masualle said.

After captaining Lioli to their first championship in 24 years last season, Masualle has again, been in commanding form this term and the champions boast the league’s best defensive record having conceded just 10 goals.

The champions are also unbeaten in 17 matches at their Teyateyaneng fortress.

“The defence has played well. We conceded the least number of goals in the league.

“We trust each other and we communicate,” Masualle said.

But one side that certainly won’t be intimidated are LMPS who were the last team to beat Lioli in Teyateyaneng on January 24, 2009.

“We are aware of our record against Lioli but are not reading much into it; the most important thing is to get a positive result for the team,” Simunye captain Bota Ramantsoe told the Sunday Express on Wednesday.

LMPS need the win to at least keep alive their hopes of a Top Four finish.

LMPS are still in with a chance of winning the league championship, but Ramantsoe insists they first need to ensure they end the season among the top four sides.

“What we want is to get into the Top Four.

“It is what every team aims for and that is the biggest thing for us. If we can win this match, then we will be among those sides,” Ramantsoe said.

But fatigue may be a factor.

LMPS played Majantja in Mohale’s Hoek on Thursday and today’s tie will be LMPS’s fifth game in three weeks, and their third away match in a row.

“I think the people who prepare the fixtures should have looked at the importance of this tie before scheduling the match with Majantja. But what we know about LMPS is that the players always work hard for each other,” Ramantsoe said.

Elsewhere in the Premiership this afternoon, Linare host Nyenye Rovers in Hlotse in a vital derby match while relegation-threatened Rovers travel to the Central Prisons to face Likhopo.

Today’s Premiership fixtures:

Lioli vs LMPS (Teyateyaneng); Likhopo vs Rovers (Central Prisons); Linare vs Nyenye Rovers (Hlotse); Mphatlalatsane vs Swallows (St Monicas)

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