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Friday, April 29, 2016

Vodacom Premier League Preview: Weekend Storylines


There can only be one...
Matlama and Lioli face-off at Setsoto
This is the biggest weekend of the Vodacom Premier League season with the title, top four and relegation all at stake. Here is a look at the weekend’s most intriguing storylines…

A must win for Matlama?
Tomorrow’s top of the table clash against Lioli is especially tough for Matlama. The rivals are level on points but because of their inferior goal difference, conventional thinking would suggest Matlama have to win. However, it is even more important that Tse Putsoa don’t lose.

A loss for Matlama given Lioli’s seven-goal advantage in the goal difference stakes would put the title in the Teyateyaneng-bound taxi only waiting for the driver to start the car.

Therefore, although a win is the preferred result, Matlama can’t afford to be reckless. Matches between Matlama and Lioli are notoriously difficult to call and are usually decided by the smallest of margins. Tse Putsoa’s best approach tomorrow, therefore, is to keep their heads.

Matlama v Lioli #LPL Head-to-Head:
05/12/2015
Lioli
1-0
Matlama
15/03/2015
Lioli
1-1
Matlama
19/10/2014
Matlama
2-0
Lioli
22/03/2014
Lioli
0-1
Matlama
26/10/2013
Matlama
1-2
Lioli
13/04/2013
Lioli
0-0
Matlama
03/11/2012
Matlama
0-2
Lioli
28/04/2012
Matlama
1-2
Lioli
29/01/2012
Lioli
0-2
Matlama

Do Lioli really have an easier run-in?
On paper it would seem Lioli have the easier ride in the final two games after tomorrow’s title derby. The champions face Rovers and Linare while Matlama have to play against Kick4Life and LCS to finish the season.

It is true that Lioli will have a sizeable form and quality advantage over Rovers and Linare, but both teams are in the relegation dogfight and will be fighting for their lives. They can still put a spanner in the works for Tse Nala.

Matlama will play higher placed teams. However, Kick4Life may be content with the top eight spot they have all but secured while. LCS, on the other hand, are unlikely to finish no higher or lower than third and their recent form has showed. Masheshena appear to already be on holiday registering two losses and two draws in their last four games.

Likila United and Linare six-pointer
The biggest game this weekend is Matlama and Lioli but the hardest fought may be in Butha-Buthe where relegation threatened Likila United and Linare face off. Both sides have 20 points with Likila in the relegation zone because of an inferior goal difference.

Likila winger Kefuoe Mabaleha (right) will be key for his side
Because the relegation battle is so tight, a win for either could put them on the brink of survival. LMPS, all the way in ninth, are only three points above Likila and Linare while the two other sides in the dogfight, Rovers and Liphakoe, have shown little signs of putting together a run of results. Three points, therefore, would be gold for either Likila or Linare.

It has been a horror season for Linare in particular. Tse Tala have never been relegated from the top-flight but are yet to win a game in 2016. Most worrying heading into tomorrow’s six-pointer at Likila is Linare’s away form. The twice times league champions have only picked up one win away from home this season, the worst record in the league.

Away Table


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
Pts.
1
Lioli
12
8
3
1
22
9
27
2
Matlama
12
8
2
2
18
10
26
3
LCS
13
6
5
2
12
5
23
4
Sandawana
11
6
2
3
13
12
20
5
Kick4Life
11
5
3
3
9
7
18
6
Likhopo
11
4
3
4
14
11
15
7
LMPS
12
3
6
3
13
14
15
8
Bantu
10
4
2
4
8
6
14
9
LDF
12
3
5
4
12
11
14
10
Liphakoe
12
3
4
5
10
16
13
11
Likila United
12
3
3
6
9
16
12
12
Rovers
11
2
5
4
8
12
11
13
Mphatlalatsane
11
2
4
5
6
10
10
14
Linare
11
1
5
5
8
14
8

Relegation knocking for Mphatlalatsane
Mphatlalatsane are facing the relegation axe this weekend. Likila United and Linare are five points ahead of Linaleli. If they draw in their meeting and Mphatlalatsane lose to Sandawana then the St Monica’s side would just about be condemned to the drop. That is because Mphatlalatsane have a terrible goal difference of -26 which is 11 goals worse than the next worst in the division, Likila’s -15.

Linaleli have been here before. Last season they pulled a miracle by going unbeaten in their last five matches, a run that included games against Bantu, Lioli and LCS, to finish one point above relegation. Time is running out for a similar act, however. Mphatlalatsane host Sandawana tomorrow and nothing but a win will do at this stage.

Sandawana look to secure top four
Sandawana, for their part, will see their match against Mphatlalatsane as a perfect opportunity to grab a stranglehold on fourth spot. The Butha-Buthe side has two-point lead on Likhopo and Bantu who face tricky away ties against Rovers and Kick4Lfe respectively. A win would be especially welcome because Sandawana face Bantu next weekend in their quest to salvage at least a top four place.

Sandawana were tied with Lioli at the top of the league in December and looked like pulling a Leicester City. But, they have struggled since the turn of the year winning just three of 11 games.

They may have slipped but a top four finish would still be a wonderful achievement for Bob Mafoso’s team.

Sandawana’s league form in 2016
24.04.2016
Sandawana
1:2
Likhopo
L
16.04.2016
LDF
0:0
Sandawana
D
02.04.2016
Sandawana
1:1
LMPS
D
20.03.2016
Linare
1:2
Sandawana
W
11.03.2016
Rovers
1:2
Sandawana
W
06.03.2016
Liphakoe
1:0
Sandawana
L
27.02.2016
Sandawana
0:1
Likila United
L
13.02.2016
Sandawana
1:0
Kick4Life
W
07.02.2016
Sandawana
0:2
Lioli
L
17.01.2016
Sandawana
0:1
Matlama
L

#LPL Weekend Fixtures
Saturday
LCS v Liphakoe (15:00, LCS)
Mphatlalatsane v Sandawana (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)
Likila United v Linare (15:00, Butha-Buthe)
Matlama v Lioli (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)

Sunday
LDF v LMPS (15:00, Ratjomose)
Kick4Life v Bantu (15:00, LCS)
Rovers v Likhopo (15:00, Roma)

Vodacom Premier League Table


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Lioli
23
15
7
1
37
10
27
52
2
Matlama
23
16
4
3
40
20
20
52
3
LCS
23
12
7
4
22
10
12
43
4
Sandawana
23
10
5
8
22
22
0
35
5
Likhopo
23
8
9
6
26
19
7
33
6
Bantu
23
9
6
8
22
15
7
33
7
LDF
23
7
10
6
21
18
3
31
8
Kick4Life
23
7
10
6
18
18
0
31
9
LMPS
23
4
11
8
20
26
-6
23
10
Liphakoe
23
4
10
9
17
27
-10
22
11
Rovers
23
5
6
12
14
27
-13
21
12
Linare
23
4
8
11
23
30
-7
20
13
Likila United
23
5
5
13
15
30
-15
20
14
Mphatlalatsane
23
3
6
16
16
43
-26
15


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