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Soccer titans to collide

Pascalinah Kabi

MASERU — FC Likhopo go into this afternoon’s league match against Mpharane Celtics looking for nothing short of victory if their hopes of escaping the dreaded chop into the lower division are to be realised.
Likhopo, the two-time premier league champions, are currently in 11th position on the log and face certain relegation if they do not start picking up points.
The club has only managed to garner 13 points after 15 games and lie just four points above basement club Majantja.
Likhopo have only won three of their 15 league games, two of them against defending champions Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and Joy.
They defeated LCS 1-0 a fortnight ago at Ratjomose before thrashing Joy 2-1 last Saturday.
The last time the two teams met in the league last year, Mpharane Celtics were victorious beating Likhopo 1-0.
Speaking to the Sunday Express on Friday, Likhopo owner Bishop Molatoli said this afternoon’s game is a must win for his team.
“It’s a must win game for us as everyone knows we can’t afford to lose any games right now if we are to avoid relegation,” Molatoli said.
He said his team needed to continue performing well and ensure that they win as many of their remaining matches.
“Our intention is to win all our remaining games but the immediate assignment is to defeat Celtics on Sunday,” Molatoli said.
Morale is high within the Likhopo camp, a sign that the team might be back to its winning ways.
Mpharane Celtics coach Freeze Ntene told the Sunday Express they were expecting a tough match this afternoon.
“Likhopo is now a different team from what I saw in the first round and if taken for granted, they can be dangerous to almost every team in the league,” Ntene said.
“Hence we need to approach this tie very differently,” he said.
He added that Likhopo has youngsters full of international experience and they (Celtics) must be tactically astute if they are to emerge winners.
“It’s a must win game for us but it is not going to be smooth sailing given the kind of team we are playing against.
“Those boys have pace, skills, international experience and are both technically and tactically superior hence we must tread carefully,” Ntene said.
Mpharane Celtics have won five of their last league matches and are in a comfortable seventh position.
They have 20 points, eight less than pacesetters Lesotho Defence Force (LDF).
Today’s fixture: LCS vs Linare (Central Prisons), LMPS vs Lioli (PTC) and Likhopo vs Mpharane Celtics (Ratjomose).

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