By: Tejan Federickson Fatorma
Week 9 of the Leone Rock Premier League anticipates intense matchups as North-East region duo teams: Kholifa Stars and Wusum Stars. Kholifa and Bhantal FC face off at the Trade Center in Freetown. Meanwhile, Wusum Stars will host Wilberforce Strikers at the Wusum Stadium in Makeni.
12th-place Kholifa Stars will seek redemption against the formidable 3rd-place Bhantal marking their third encounter this season. Bhantal riding high on an unbeaten streak in their debut season positions themselves as strong title contenders. The upcoming match serves as an opportunity for Kholifa to avenge their earlier defeats to the National First Division defending Champions in the 2023 National playoff group stage and finals.
The Tonkolilians approach the fixture with optimism following a recent victory against Wusum Stars in a Northeast region derby. Bhantal on the other hand displayed resilience with a tough 0-1 away win against Lamboi in Lungi.
Simultaneously in Makeni, 7th place Wusum Stars confront bottom-side Wilberforce Strikers at the Wusum Stadium. This match holds significant importance for Wusum Stars who are yet to recover from a shocking 0-1 defeat to Kholifa in Magburaka. Coach Mohamed Lamin’s side inconsistent in the ongoing campaign with only three wins in eight matches faces pressure from home fans to secure a victory against Wilberforce.
Despite the pressure, the 2021/2022 SLPL third-place winners remain optimistic about a home win. However, they must guard against complacency recognizing Wilberforce Strikers’ capability to upset the balance. The visitor’s recent loss at home to Luawa and the looming threat of relegation add gravity to Saturday’s match emphasizing the need for a focused and determined performance from both sides.