Lioli, Matlama renew rivalry

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Bantu midfielder Thabiso Mohapi controll the ball as Matlama striker Motebang Sera close in

Mikia Kalati

THE battle lines have been drawn ahead of Saturday’s clash of two of the country’s most successful clubs, Lioli and Matlama who are both desperate for maximum points for different reasons.

There are only three games remaining for both sides and Lioli need to get back to winning ways after surrendering pole position to rivals Bantu.

This followed Sunday’s goalless stalemate with LCS.

A win is therefore a must if they are to keep up with Bantu and go on to defend the Vodacom Premier League they have made their own in the last two seasons.

Matlama also need a victory to enhance their chances of a top eight finish.

Lioli coach, Halemakale Mahlaha said his side could not afford any slip-up as they trail Bantu by two points.

“The two teams have a big history between them and there is a big rivalry in this match,” Mahlaha said, adding, “that is motivation in itself to the players and we never want to lose to Matlama”.

Despite trailing Bantu, Mahlaha insisted the championship “will be decided in the last game of the season”.

He said his charges suffered from fatigue which prevented them for performing at their best against LCS, adding it would be a different ball game against Matlama.

“Our players will be in better shape because we gave them a few days to recover.

“All we have to do is to work harder in our preparations,” he said.

Matlama coach Seephephe Matete said that pride would be at stake for his side which was going through a rough patch.

“There will be a lot at stake for us. We need to win this match to ensure a top 8 finish.

“Pride is always at stake in these kind of matches and we have to win to restore the lost pride after a string of disappointing results,” Matete said.

Tse Putsoa head into the match on the back of a 0-1 loss to rookies Sky Battalion and Matete said that “winning this match could go a long way in motivating the team to finish the season on a high”.

“It is also a platform for us to get revenge because Lioli dominated the previous encounter,” he said.

Matete, a Matlama icon in his heydays, said it was always going to be difficult for him to turn around the fortunes of the club having joined midway through the season.

“It is never easy for any coach when he joins the team midway through the season but I’m confident we will do well in our last three games.

“I’m trying to give everyone a fair chance and I even made a change in the goalkeeping department but it has not been easy working under the circumstances,” Matete said.

In other Saturday matches, Rovers face Kick4Life in a must win encounter to keep their survival hopes alive at LCS Ground.

Kick4Life also need a win to cement their place among the top four.

Liphakoe host LDF in Quthing.

On Sunday, pacesetters Bantu will be at home to fourth-placed Sky Battalion as they continue their quest to wrest the championship from Lioli.

Weekend fixtures:

Saturday

Matlama v Lioli

Liphakoe v LDF

Kick4Life v Rovers

Sunday

Bantu v Sky Battalion

Sandawana v BB Warriors

LCS v Likhopo

LMPS v Linare

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