Fireworks are expected when Lioli host buoyant Sundawana in the first leg of the LNIG Top8 tournament set for Setsoto Stadium this afternoon.
The return fixture of the match takes place on the weekend of 20 and 21 February, but each of the teams would be aware of the importance of winning today’s tie to have a comfortable cushion going into the reverse tie.
Lioli were the Top8 champions in 2014, while Bantu clinched the title last season. Sundawana will be playing in the tournament for the first time after ending last season in eighth position. The tournament is for teams that would have finished the previous premier league season from number one to eight.
However, although Lioli have emerged victorious on all the three occasions the two teams have met, Sundawana coach, Bob Mafoso, believes the time has come to end this stranglehold.
“I know we go into the match as underdogs, but we have prepared well for this match. The fact that not many believe we can win this match, means we are not under that much pressure although we will be coming into the match looking for victory. It is not going to be an easy match looking at the calibre of the team we are facing but we like I said, are more than ready to prove our worth,” Mafoso said.
Mafoso said what also gives him confidence ahead of the tie is the high spirit in camp.
“Lioli have a good squad. They have won this competition before and have been playing in it since its inception in 2014, so beating them is not going to be a walk in the park. However, my players understand this and are ready to give one hundred percent to win the tie. Fortunately, playing these big teams is already a motivation to players so we will be heading into this match with very inspired players,” said Mafoso.
“It is kind of make or break for us because if we beat them, believe me, we will go far into this competition and the league also.
“Unfortunately, we come into this match after Matlama broke our seven-match winning streak which I believe was a wakeup call to us so Lioli must come prepared for a tough fight.”
On his part, Lioli coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, said they would not undermine Sundawana in the match.
“We will be playing a rejuvenated side here and we can’t afford to undermine them despite our good track record against them.
“Remember we will be playing at home so it is important to win this match for us to go into the second leg with little pressure,” said Mokhothu.
He also warned his players to be fully committed to avoid losing the match against a very suborn Sundawana side whose confidence is growing with each passing week.
“If we are to beat them, my players will have to show a lot of commitment and determination, and fortunately now that there is the African Champions League tournament around the corner, everyone is giving their all.”
In another quarterfinal match to be played today, Likila United host Bantu at Maputsoe DIFA Ground.
Meanwhile, winners of the tournament pocket M100 000, while the runners-up take home M80 000. The third and fourth placed teams receive M60 000 and M50 000 respectively, with the four sides that fail to go past the quarterfinals each getting M35 000.
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