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Lioli are new premier league kings

Business

Seabata Mahao

Lioli Football Club (FC) have finally ended their nine-year wait for the league championship, securing the 2023/24 Vodacom Premier League (VPL) title after a 1-1 draw with fellow title challengers Matlama FC.

Despite finishing a distant ninth in the previous season, the Motheo Mohapi-coached side defied all odds to clinch the championship this year.

The Berea-based team ended the season with 68 points from 30 games, staying neck-and-neck with Matlama at the top of the table for most of the season.

Matlama’s excellent performance pushed Lioli all the way to the final day, making for a thrilling end to the season.

Following their unprecedented championship triumph, Mohapi said they had finally restored the club’s dignity, which had waned over the past several years.

He said he was grateful for the rousing support Basotho showed them on their way to lifting the title.

Commenting on their final league match, Mohapi said their game plan paid off against Matlama.

“They came at us with our strategy, but they did not know that we have our reasons for playing pressure football, and they fell into our trap. The match had so much pressure and tension on my players, and I had to calm them down during the halftime break so that they finished the match calmly,” Mohapi said.

He also indicated that they needed to draw the first blood, which always works in their favour.

“When you play against us, do not let us score first because that will be your demise. After we scored I told them that we had already won the match, and we just had to control the match.” Mohapi added.

He further explained the difference that propelled them to the championship.

“This season we played with ordinary players with no big names, and this gave us an advantage against our opponents. I asked them to give me their bodies so that I give them my football intelligence and I used that to win the league.

With the championship winners finally decided, the relegated clubs have tentatively been declared. Naughty Boys FC and Manonyane FC have been relegated to the A-Division League. However, the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) said there are pending cases, which could affect the clubs to be relegated when they are finally resolved.

“Kindly note that the pending cases might impact the current log standing but currently this is where we are at and please accept it the way it stands,” the memorandum reads.

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