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Linare, Bantu square off



MASERU – High-flying Linare and Bantu will square off on Sunday afternoon at the DIFA Leribe Ground in Maputsoe in a match that may have title implications.

Leslie Notši has revitalised Linare since taking over from Tebogo Moloi in September and ‘Tse Tala’ scored another impressive result last weekend when they stunned Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) 1-0, thanks to a thunderbolt from John Mofokeng which sent the Leribe fans into a frenzy.

Notši is unbeaten in the Vodacom Premier League action since taking charge in Hlotse and has lifted Linare into second place but he faces an acid test on Sunday against Bantu who are top of the league and appear determined to reclaim the title they lost to Matlama last season.

Bantu have won their last six games in a row and have kept seven clean-sheets this season meaning they will also head into Sunday’s showdown full of confidence.

‘A Matšo Matebele’ will be facing their toughest test of the season so far against a Linare side that has impressed, not only with their quick attackers, but with their tenacious defence as well.

Looking ahead to Sunday’s top of the table clash, Notši said the match comes at the perfect time for his team and although facing Bantu is a different challenge to LCS, both ‘Masheshena’ and ‘A Matšo Matebele’ are the types of teams Linare want to put their skills to the test against.

“Bantu is another strong team; they are leading the log (and) it’s because they are doing well. I am happy because we are growing and it is okay to play big games and test ourselves to see where we are,” Notši said.

“I think this game comes at the right time when the morale is high amongst our players, we just need them to play and enjoy,” the former Lesotho coach said.

The sides are both in fine form and are separated at the top of the table by only four points. If Linare win, the gap will be reduced to a single point.

However, the last five meetings between the two sides have not been kind to the hosts and, if the statistics are to be believed, Bantu have the upper hand.

In addition, the Mafeteng giants are unbeaten in their last five games away from home and have won more points on the road than any other team (17) so far this season.

Bantu striker Thabiso Mahola appears to have gained confidence as well.

The unknown quantity, over whom there were doubts about his ability to lead Bantu to glory, has scored five goals in 12 games. That is not bad for a newcomer to the elite league and even his harshest critics have been quietened.

Linare will be hoping they have the answers for the tests Bantu will give them on Sunday. Fortunately for them they have Notši, one of the country’s best teachers of the game.

Notši said their sensational victory over LCS was more than just three point, but a learning curve as well.

The Linare coach said the win gave ‘Tse Tala’ a clear picture of the areas they must improve and where they need to keep their good work going.

Notši said Linare did not want to play long balls against LCS and the plan was to play in the spaces behind the LCS and see what kind of damage they could do.

It helped that Linare boast several players who are experts at transition attacks such as Mabuti Potloane, Tšepang Sefali, and the match-winner, Mofokeng.

The trio were crucial because they played with speed upfront and were able to trouble LCS’s vaunted defence which had only conceded six goals in 11 games heading into the match.

“We wanted to learn something and see if after all these games that we have been playing and winning we would be able to take the heat (LCS) would give us. We also wanted to see what is it we can do and how they will respond and I think our boys did well,” he said.

“They took our instructions and did what we talked about. That was a learning curve. LCS is a good team (and) there are things we saw. We saw where we are short and where to improve, even the good things, we must continue to work on improving on them,” Notši explained.

Because of the burials of former Lesotho coach Seephephe Matete and referee Salang Ntepane on Saturday all of this weekend’s Vodacom Premier League games have been rescheduled for Sunday.

Sunday fixtures (15:00):
CCX vs. Galaxy (LCA)
Naughty Boys vs. Lifofane (Leshoboro Stadium)
Matlama vs. Manonyane (Bambatha)
Lioli vs. LCS (Lioli Ground)
LDF vs. LMPS (LDF Ground)
Linare vs. Bantu (DIFA Leribe)
Swallows vs. Liphakoe (Morija)
Machokha vs. Lijabatho (LCS)

Tlalane Phahla

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