Decisive weekend for Top 8 contenders

A tussle for the ball in an LCS, Liphakoe first leg match

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – The second leg of the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 Tournament this weekend is billed to produce fireworks as clubs position themselves to scoop the coveted Top 8 trophy.

Matlama FC face-off with Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) FC in a standout fixture at the Setsoto Stadium tomorrow, having gone down 1-0 loss to the policemen in the first round at DiFA Maputsoe Stadium last month.

Interestingly Matlama have not lost a single game since the LMPS defeat in the quarterfinals first leg, they have maintained a good run in the Econet Premier League (EPL) and are lying on second position behind Bantu in the log. They beat LCS 3-1 before struggling to collect maximum points against Bantu and Lifofane who held both to a 1-1.

However, as defending league champions, Matlama has begun to show signs of fatigue and may find it difficult to defend their title with a 14-point gap between them and Bantu on the 14-team EPL log table.

Still, Matlama coach, Charles Manda, will be hoping to rally his troops in the remaining games of the second round of the current season and make a push for the cup tournament.

“It is going to be a different game altogether (against LMPS). We lost 1-0 in Maputsoe and we will have to catch up,” said Manda in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday. “It is going to be a difficult game playing against LMPS. They are a good team with quality players.”

Manda said LMPS play long balls, and said they would have to match them pound for pound this time around, adding that fortunately his team is free injury going into Saturday’s match.

Manda further said: “The spirit is high at our camp, having to play against a team of LMPS’ caliber. We need to win 2-0 or 3-1.”   In another LNIG Top 8 quarterfinals second leg match tomorrow, Lioli face defending champions Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) FC. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the first round, also at the Maputsoe Stadium last month.

On Sunday, Liphakoe will renew rivalry with Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) FC, with a place in the LNIG Top 8 semi-finals on the line after a 1-1 in the first round at Setsoto Stadium.

The contest between the two sides will be the third match in two months.

LCS have won one (4-1 in the premier league) before a 1-1 draw in the LNIG Top 8 quarterfinals first leg.

“It’s going to be a difficult game. Liphakoe are not a team to underestimate,” said LCS coach Mpitsa Marai.

However, Marai said they are going to Saturday’s match with an upper hand over Liphakoe since even a goalless draw will be enough for them to book a place in the LNIG Top 8 semi-finals, for Liphakoe were the hosts in the first leg.

“But we will have to play an attacking game so that we cannot be under pressure,” Marai said.

He said the spirit is very good at their camp after they won their last two games in the league.

He continued: “But we don’t convert our chances, despite that we always created a lot more than our opponents. So we have been working on that aspect throughout the week.”

Good news for LCS, though, is that all their players who were injured are back at training, namely Setho Moshoeshoe, Mosiuoa Boseeka, Leboneng Moqecho, Bakuena Lenka, Lehlohonolo Motjotjela and Mojalefa Ramabusa.

However, Marai said they all lack match fitness for they have been out for a long time.

“We have played with the same team for a long time and their presence will be helpful,” Marai said.

“It will help us a lot to balance our team as there is already a sign of fatigue on some of our players.”

In another Sunday LNIG Top 8 , second leg match, Kick4Life face Bantu. In the first leg, Bantu hammered Kick4Life 4-1.

Bantu coach, Atang ‘Bob’ Mafoso, said their aim is to improve from their last game and as a result would not change the energy they applied against Kick4Life in the first leg, despite going to the Sunday’s match well-off.

“We don’t want to change anything. Instead in every game we play we want to improve from the last game,” said Mafoso.

Bantu have just beaten LDF 4-2 in their last league match last Sunday. “So our approach will be the same (against Kick4Life),” Mafoso further said.

Bantu will miss the services of Tau Masiu who played a pivotal role in Bantu’s last games. Masiu sustained a knee injury in a game against Matlama a fortnight ago.

Mafoso said even though Masiu was not part of the Bantu team which clobbered LDF last weekend, his absence has affected his team’s playing rhythm.

 

 

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