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Lioli, Bantu renew rivalry


Chris Theko

Premier League giants Berea-based Lioli and Bantu of Mafeteng are set to renew their rivalry at the Lioli Stadium on Sunday in what has in recent years become one of the biggest top flight clashes in the country. 

Though the Vodacom Premier League (VPL) 2020/21 season is winding down to a close, the two sides still have a lot to play for more than just bragging rights. 

The two clubs wade into the encounter looking to cement their positions in the premier league’s top four. Bantu sits in third position behind Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) and league winners Matlama with 53 points after 27 games. 

The Mafeteng side has had a recent inconsistent run of form losing two and drawing two of their last four matches. 

Lioli sits in fifth position of the 16-team log table with 50 points after 27 games, and will be looking for nothing short of a victory and to not lose two games in one season against bitter rivals having lost the first leg to Bantu in June last year. 

Speaking to this publication, Coach Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu said his side will have to rise to the occasion and deliver a top performance when it faces what he described as a wounded Bantu following a last-week loss to Linare.

“Everything is going well ahead of the clash against Bantu, the preparations have been good because this will be a very big game as there is a lot to play for. Bantu are not in a good mood having come from that hefty loss against Linare last week so they will be looking to bounce back and we are ready for what they are to bring. Both teams have a lot to play for as far as the top four is concerned,” Mokhothu said.

Meanwhile, Mokhothu also congratulated Matlama for having already won the league with four games to go to the end of the season. 

“Matlama has already won the league and let me take this opportunity to congratulate them but that does not mean it is all over because the top four is still for anyone of the five teams from position two to position five. All the teams in the top four have a lot at stake to play for and Lioli is one of them so is Bantu so this is going to be an entertaining game of football,” said the coach.      

For his part, captain of Bantu, Mokone Marabe said it is highly important for them to win the tie considering they have just come from a painful 1-4 loss against Linare last Sunday.

“We have just lost a game against one of the biggest teams in the country and that left a painful mark on us, so we go into this game against Lioli with only a win in our minds to salvage our pride and fight to finish second on the log. 

“Going against Lioli is always a big game especially now when both teams still have a lot to play for. It is going to be a different ballgame because the guys are ready, full of determination and want to send a strong message,” Marabe said.

On the other hand, elsewhere, the battle for survival will be intensifying when two relegation-threatened clubs take to the ground as Sefotha-fotha locks horns with FC Likhopo at LDF Ground with LDF hosting Lijabatho at the same venue on Saturday. Kick4Life will host another relegation-threatened side 14th-placed Swallows at LCS grounds while Lifofane takes on Liphakoe at the Butha Buthe Ground.  On Sunday all roads lead to the north with 8th-placed Linare welcome champions Matlama at the Maputsoe DiFA Ground, while CCX will play host to Manonyane at LAC while LCS will take a short trip to face-off against LMPS at LDF Ground.

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