Wounded Mat­lama host un­de­feated Likhopo in premier leaguel po­ten­tial thriller

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Wounded Mat­lama host ta­ble-top­ping Likhopo on Satur­day in a po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive Maseru derby set for LCS Ground.

Tse Put­soa go into the match af­ter fail­ing to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions in last week­end’s In­de­pen­dence Cup tour­na­ment. Mat­lama lost to Li­oli in the semi­fi­nal and LCS for a third-place fin­ish al­though they had been the pre­tour­na­ment favourite.

on the other hand, Likhopo are in high spir­its fol­low­ing an im­pres­sive run which sees them atop the 14-team Vo­da­com Premier League ta­ble. Likhopo are un­beaten so far this sea­son with five wins and two draws — the only team with­out a loss in the 2015/16 premier­ship cam­paign.

Mat­lama coach, Moses Maliehe, told the Le­sotho Times he hopes his charges bounce back from their dis­ap­point­ing In­de­pen­dence Cup cam­paign by hand­ing Likhopo their first de­feat of the sea­son.

“I think the play­ers’ at­ti­tude was the rea­son we dis­ap­pointed in the tour­na­ment de­spite our good per­for­mance in the league,” said Maliehe.

“It is some­thing that wor­ries me and needs to be ad­dressed as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Mat­lama are joint se­cond along­side Li­oli on the premier league ta­ble with 16 points in seven matches, while Likhopo are one point ahead.

Maliehe, who was re­cently ap­pointed na­tional team in­terim coach in place of the sacked Seep­hephe Matete, also told the Le­sotho Times he was not leav­ing Mat­lama for Likuena.

“I’m still with Mat­lama and my fo­cus now is on im­prov­ing the team’s per­for­mance and chal­lenge for the league ti­tle,” said Maliehe.

“I will be meet­ing with LEFA of­fi­cials soon to talk about the na­tional team po­si­tion. But what I can tell you is I’m fully fo­cused on Mat­lama, as well as the na­tional un­der-20 team.

“I pre­fer work­ing with the un­der-20s and will only be in charge of Likuena on a tem­po­rary ba­sis for the re­main­ing 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fiers.”

Maliehe also said he would not rush Mabuti Pot­loane back into ac­tion af­ter the star-mid­fielder re­turned to train­ing last week fol­low­ing five months on the side­lines due to in­jury.

“We need to pro­tect him and make sure he is fully fit be­fore he plays again,” Maliehe said.

on his part, Likhopo coach, Sha­lane Le­hohla, said the Mat­lama match presents his charges with one of their big­gest chal­lenges this sea­son.

“We are tak­ing it one game at a time and will pre­pare very well for the clash be­cause Mat­lama are a top side,” Sha­lane said.

“They have been do­ing well this sea­son and what makes the match even tougher is it’s a derby.

“How­ever, our tar­get is to con­tinue do­ing well and get­ting max­i­mum points.”

The for­mer Likuena mid­fielder also said “team work” was the rea­son be­hind Likhopo’s im­pres­sive run this sea­son.

“The play­ers have showed a lot of de­ter­mi­na­tion and courage but I think team work has been the key to our suc­cess,” said Le­hohla.

“I know it’s still early in the sea­son and we still have a long way to go for us to start talk­ing about our per­for­mance. How­ever, we want to do well like any other team in the league, so we will go for it against Mat­lama.”

In an­other Vo­da­com Premier League match set for Satur­day, win­less Mphat­lalat­sane host Kick­4life in Ma­put­soe. Mphat­lalat­sane an­chor the ta­ble with two points from two draws, while Kick­4Life are eighth with 11 points.

The Butha-buthe derby be­tween Lik­ila united and Sun­dawana rounds-up Satur­day’s league matches.

on Sun­day, newly crowned In­de­pen­dence Cup cham­pi­ons Bantu, travel to the na­tional univer­sity of Le­sotho (nul) Roma for a date with Rovers, with LCS host­ing Li­oli at LCS Ground, LMPS at home to Liphakoe and LDF en­ter­tain­ing Linare at Ratjo­mose Bar­racks to com­plete the week­end’s fix­tures.

Fix­tures at a glance Satur­day: Mat­lama v Likhopo (LCS Ground), Mphat­lalat­sane v Kick­4life (Ma­put­soe), Lik­ila united v Sun­dawana (Butha-buthe).

Sun­day: LCS v Li­oli (LCS Ground), Rovers v Bantu (Mach­abeng Ground-roma), LMPS v Liphakoe (PTC), LDF v Linare (Ratjo­mose Bar­racks).

Mat­lama de­fender Nkau lerotholi (left) will have his hands full against likhopo play­maker Bokang Mothoana on Satur­day.

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