MASERU – Second-placed Lioli, the only side still with a mathematical chance of ruining Matlama’s title dreams, will have to beat Linare this afternoon to ensure the league race continues for yet another week.
Lioli could then set up a mouth-watering clash against Matlama at Bambatha next Saturday in what could prove to be the title decider.
But even if Tse Nala win the expected ground filler might not materialise if Lioli fans follow through with the threat to boycott the league’s remaining matches because of what they feel is unfair officiating against their team.
On Monday, Lioli’s communications and marketing manager Moeketsi Pitso said on local radio that the chief of Berea had allegedly instructed all Lioli supporters not to attend the team’s remaining matches.
The pronouncement came after Tse Nala were denied a strong penalty claim late on in their 1-0 loss to Likhopo last Saturday which left their championship defence in tatters.
Although they have a game in hand Lioli are now 11 points behind Matlama with just four matches to play.
Nevertheless, Lioli’s treasurer Likotsi Likotsi said he was unaware of such threat to boycott matches.
“That is news to me,” he said.
“For our games with Linare and Matlama our fans will be there to support the team,” Likotsi told the Sunday Express.
This afternoon Lioli are in Hlotse to face Linare in the Great North derby knowing only a win would do.
Lioli’s assistant coach Halemakale Mahlaha said the side were counting on the support of their vociferous fans.
“We need that support now, I don’t know much about that (boycott) but I don’t think they will do it. Maybe the threat was made in the heat of the moment,” Mahlaha said.
Mahlaha, who has been in charge of Tse Nala for the past two weeks because of the absence of coach Mosholi Mokhothu due to work reasons, said their preparations had been upset.
Lioli were due to host Mphatlalatsane yesterday but league fixtures were rescheduled on Wednesday partly because of the national under-20 team’s match with Mozambique yesterday.
It is one of the disruptions that have plagued Lioli’s end of season run-in.
On March 20, the Teyateyaneng side had all their home matches indefinitely suspended by the league after match officials were attacked following a 3-1 loss to LMPS.
It meant the postponement of crucial home ties with Matlama and Bantu, which will now be played at Bambatha on May 8 and 15 respectively.
The match with Mphatlalatsane, meanwhile, will now be played on the final day of the season in Hlotse.
“We were expecting to play Mphatlalatsane (yesterday) so the changes have really affected our preparations,” Mahlaha said.
Lioli also have to deal with the suspension of centre-back Brown Makobe who was sent off in their defeat against Likhopo.
But the good news for Lioli is the return of playmaker Motlalepula Mofolo and left-back Thabang Matala.
Mahlaha insisted Lioli could still win the premier league if they win their remaining matches.
“We have to work hard to win all our remaining four games and then we will see after that,” Mahlaha said.
“Matlama still have to play Joy who are trying to get into the top eight and LCS who are trying to get into the top eight.
“We still have a chance.”
Elsewhere this afternoon, 11th placed Mphatlalatsane, with 32 points, will guarantee their Premiership survival if they beat relegated Botha-Bothe Roses in St Monicas.
Lerotholi, 10th with 33 points, can do likewise if they can collect all three points away at second-placed LMPS.