Sports

EPL pressure mounts

Chris Theko

A 24hour log first position is what Bantu FC is looking to re-attain this weekend and defend their Econet Premier League championship.

Bantu FC striker Lazola Tjokotjokwana’s lone goal against rivals Lioli at Setsoto stadium last Saturday was enough to seal a win for the defending champions.

The win handed A Mats’o Matebele a much needed three points that moved them to the top of the log for the first time this season, bypassing Matlama, but only for 24hours.

The Mafeteng outfit went into Saturday’s match second on the log with two points behind Matlama and their win meant a catapult to the top with an advantage of one point.

Bantu were enjoying more of the possession in the early minutes of the first half with most of the action in Lioli’s part of the pitch, but Tse Nala launched the first attack from Montoeli Sonopo’s set piece on the 12th min and Thabiso Lichaba came to the rescue with a brilliant save.

Chances kept on being created by both sides although Lioli set deep in their own half denying Bantu freedom on the ball, and any space behind their defence.

Three minutes before the first break Bantu suffered a big blow as the tough and relentless midfielder Lindokuhle Phungulwa had to be substituted by Hlompho Kalake due to an injury.

Tšoanelo Koetle failed to clear a dangerous ball which landed on Lazola’s boots who made no mistake and converted.

Lazola punished Lioli from a mistake by Koetle just outside the penalty area just before the break.

Jessy Matsie had to come to the party between Lioli’s goals most of the match to keep his side in the match.

The rhythm of the match then changed when Lioli took control of the match as they searched for an equaliser and Bantu sat deep in their half defending their goal.

The Mafeteng outfit once again came close to scoring, this time it was Hlompho Kalake but his volley was deflected by Lioli’s Kopano Tseka turning it into a corner on the 83rd minutes of the match.

Bantu coach James Madidilane said he was happy with the team’s performance.

“We checked our past matches and my players stuck to the plan. I give credit to my team because we knew how Lioli was going to come like,” said Madidilane.

Commenting on his players dropping back in the second half, he pointed out that they were forced to, due to Phungulwa’s injury.

Meanwhile, Lioli coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana admitted that their opponents took advantage of their mistake.

“I am happy with how we played although we were not adding enough numbers in front to attack, however, sometimes in football you get punished for your mistakes,” Thotanyana said.

In other results on Saturday LDF confirmed their status in the top four coming from behind to beat Kick4Life 3-2 at Ratjomose Ground.

LMPS and Majantja played to zero all draw and relegation threatened Swallows increased survival chances when it defeated Liphakoe 2-1 in Quthing.

After 24hours of Bantu’s glory, Matlama’s 2-nil victory over Sefotha-Fotha on Sunday at Setsoto stadium took Tse Putsoa back on top of the league with just one game remaining.

Matlama are now on 59 points holding a two-point lead over the defending champions Bantu FC which has 57 points.

In the league top 4 race, the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) sealed their position two and three spots respectively in this year’s campaign after the weekend results.

The last games will decide which teams takes the first and second spots between Matlama and Bantu.

The Top 4 reigning champions, Lioli FC will not be able to defend the cup next season as they were eliminated out of the top 4 race by Bantu on Saturday.

At the bottom of the log, the relegation survival is down to three teams; Galaxy, Swallows and Majantja.

Galaxy are in position 12 and need just a win to survive relegation. Swallows will survive if Galaxy drops three points or two in their last game providing Swallows a win.

Majantja who are at the bottom of the log are the most threatened side as they are going for a must win game. They will survive only if Swallows and Galaxy lose.

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