Likhopo face Matlama backlash

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By Moorosi Tsiane

MASERU — Bitter enemies Matlama and Likhopo on Sunday renew their rivalry in a potentially-explosive Maseru derby, arguably the highlight of the weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
Matlama — Lesotho’s most successful football team with nine league titles to their name — come into the match third on the 14-team Premiership table while their opponents
are in sixth position.

After being knocked out by Likhopo in the quarterfinal of the Prime Minister’s Charity
Cup last month, Matlama will be keen to restore lost pride, giving the prospect of a scintillating
clash, scheduled for the LCS Ground.

Matlama Public Relations Officer, Ramafahla Thamae, said Likhopo should expect a thorough hiding from Tse Putsoa, as Matlama are popularly known, come Sunday.

“It’s payback time because they knocked us out of the Prime Minister’s Cup, which still hurts,” Thamae said.

“We will not settle for anything less than a win because in addition to settling scores with Likhopo, we need all the three points in order to narrow the gap between us and logleaders
Lioli.”

Matlama wade into Sunday’s tie after a weeklong break following the postponement of their match against Linare last Saturday.

The tie had to be rescheduled to accommodate the funeral of the late Likhopo foundercoach,
Bishop Molatoli.

Thamae is, however, confident the break is not going to affect their form and that Matlama
have enough depth in talent to beat Likhopo after signing 10 new players and releasing
11 others, during the January transfer window.

The team is also expected to unveil a new coach today.

“We must take every match as it comes and I believe our new signings will add depth to the team so we can get back to winning ways,” said Thamae.

Meanwhile, Likhopo interim coach, Tšeliso Mofolo, says he knows all too well finishing in a respectable position at the end of the season will require consistency and is hoping his
charges will continue from where they left off last weekend following a famous 1-0 win over
LCS. Ending the season among the top four teams would also be a fulfillment of Molatoli’s
dream, Mofolo further said.

“Bishop wanted the team to finish in the top four this season and following his death,
we sat down with the boys and promised his wife that we are going to fulfill his dream,”
said Mofolo. Mofolo is, however, is fully cognisant of the task at hand, and is aware of the danger posed by Matlama.

“It’s not going to be a stroll in the park and beating Matlama twice in a row is not going
to be easy. I am aware they have reinforced their squad, while we could not because we
were occupied with Bishop’s funeral, so this is going to be a different ball-game altogether,”
Mofolo said.

The former Arsenal midfielder also said the rainy weather had negatively affected Likhopo’s
preparations.

Full weekend fixtures
Saturday: Melele vs Joy (Qacha’s Nek),
LMPS vs Qoaling Highlanders (Police Training
College), LCS vs Mpharane Celtics ( Lesotho
Correctional Services)
Sunday: Bantu vs Nyenye Rovers ( Seeiso
Leshoboro Sports Complex), Mphatlalatsane
vs Linare (St Monica’s), Matlama vs Likhopo
(LCS Ground)

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