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Lioli’s title hopes suffer blow

Moorosi Tsiane

FC Likhopo …1
Lioli (1)1

Likhopo left back, in red, Tilane Tau control the ball as Lioli winger, Lekhanya Lekhanya closes-in in a Premier league tie played at Bambatha yesterdayLioli’s title aspirations suffered a blow yesterday when a late equaliser from Thapelo Tale helped Likhopo to a share of the spoils at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
Lioli, who are second on the 14-team Premier League table, were hoping to close the gap on log-leaders Bantu with a win over fourth-placed Likhopo, but the one-all draw put the Mafeteng-based table-toppers close to their first Premier League title.

Bantu, who lead the table by seven points, on Thursday face Linare, who are level on points with Lioli but occupy third place on the table due to an inferior goal-difference.
With Bantu remaining with four matches and Lioli three fixtures and Linare also three ties before the season comes to a close, only a dramatic loss of form could now deny Bantu the Premiership title.

Meanwhile, in yesterday’s match, Lioli scored through midfielder Jeremiah Kamele five minutes into the tie.
With the two teams matching each other pound for pound in the first half, Likhopo however, came back the better side in the second half, but their strikers let them down through wayward shooting.
Lioli nearly extended their lead when striker Nkoto Masoabi received a defence-splitting pass from fellow hitman Tšepo Seturumane. However, the dreadlocked striker failed to bury the ball in a one-on-one situation with Likhopo keeper Kananelo Makhooane, hitting the cross-bar with Lioli fans already celebrating a goal.

Likhopo introduced the midfield duo of Makara Ntaitsana and Relebohile Raotsi in place of Ntoi Sefoli and Seenyane Nthejane, as they searched for an equaliser, while Lioli’s Lekhanyaaa Lekhanya and Masoabi made way for Montoeli Sonopo and Tšepo Lekhooana.

But with Lioli five minutes away from a win, Tale leveled matters with a simple free kick after Likhopo winger Tumelo Khutlang was fouled about 10 meters from the penalty box.
Likhopo keeper Makhoane then ensured a point for his side when he brilliantly denied Montoeli a goal in the 89th minute, with a point-blank save.

In a post-match interview, Lioli coach, Mosholu Mokhothu blamed lack of concentration for his side’s draw, adding the road was getting tougher to defend their league title.
“We started well and got the early goal that we needed. But we lost concentration in the second half, leading to the equaliser,” Mokhothu said.
On his part, Likhopo interim coach, Tšeliso Mofolo said the early goal was the reason behind his side’s lackluster performance in the first stanza.
“I am not satisfied at all; we conceded a very silly goal too early into the match and the players seemed frustrated after that goal. However, we talked at half-time, and got the equaliser,” Mofolo said.

Meanwhile, in other league ties played yesterday, Mphatlalatsane and LCS drew 1-1 at St Monica’s while Mpharane bounced back from last week’s 8-1 humiliation by Bantu to beat Qoaling Highlanders 2-1.
LMPS beat struggling Melele 1-0 in Qacha’s Nek in the other match.

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