Foes Mat­lama

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

HE was ex­pected to be the Mes­siah to take Bantu to the Promised Land so two back-to­back de­feats were cer­tainly not what head­coach Mot­latsi Shale ex­pected when he re­turned to his old club last month.

The Mafeteng gi­ants were com­ing from a fa­mous In­de­pen­dence Cup fi­nal vic­tory over sworn en­e­mies Li­oli when Shale re­turned to the club he left un­der a cloud be­fore the start of this sea­son.

A leg­end at Bantu af­ter lead­ing A Matšo Mate­bele to their first premier league ti­tle in the 2013/14 sea­son, Shale had to leave af­ter man­age­ment de­cided not to of­fer him a new con­tract.

How­ever, an in­dif­fer­ent premier league cam­paign prompted his re­turn to the team two weeks ago. Shale’s first match in charge re­sulted in a 1-0 loss against Sun­dawana, and the next was an­other 1-0 league de­feat — this time to Kick­4life last Sun­day.

And as fate would have it, this week­end, Shale leads Bantu against neme­sis Mat­lama at Leshoboro Sta­dium in a po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive premier­ship tie, yet the hard-talk­ing coach re­mains calm de­spite the loom­ing Tse Put­soa storm.

“Things are not okay for us at the mo­ment be­cause we have lost two matches in a row, which is un­ac­cept­able,” Shale said this week.

“We have to fight in the re­main­ing two matches of the first round of the sea­son, start­ing with Satur­day’s clash against Mat­lama. We need to win th­ese matches to go to the break closer to the top of the ta­ble.”

Shale does not be­lieve he re­turned to Ban- tu at the wrong time as the team was on a high af­ter win­ning the In­de­pen­dence Cup.

“There is never a good time for a coach to take over and I don’t think that’s the prob­lem here. Coaches come and go any time, and I think we can turn things around.

“We just have to put our hearts into it and work hard on the field of play be­cause we need to be at the top of the ta­ble with the other big teams.

“Los­ing two suc­ces­sive matches since re­turn­ing to this team has been a bit­ter pill to swal­low for me, but like I said, we can get out of this sit­u­a­tion.”

Mat­lama coach, Moses Maliehe, also told the Le­sotho Times that last week­end’s 1-0 loss against ti­tle-ri­vals Li­oli was a bit­ter pill to swal­low.

How­ever, Maliehe said there were many pos­i­tives from his play­ers that the nar­row de­feat had not been as de­bil­i­tat­ing as one would have ex­pected. Li­oli leapfrogged Mat­lama into top spot on the 14-team premier­ship ta­ble af­ter the win and Maliehe wants to re­turn to the sum­mit by beat­ing Bantu on Satur­day.

“I was a bit sur­prised to see my play­ers in high spir­its when we started train­ing this week and that was en­cour­ag­ing for me as a coach,” Maliehe said.

“I must ad­mit it was also painful to lose to Li­oli at the week­end and sur­ren­der top spot to them. We want to get back there on top again and that can only hap­pen if we win against Bantu on Satur­day; that is our pri­or­ity as we speak.

“Our tar­get is to end the year on a high note and a win over a big team like Bantu is al­ways a bonus.

“The play­ers have put the dis­ap­point­ment of los­ing to Li­oli be­hind them and they want to go on the Christ­mas break with their spir­its high.”

Maliehe also said Tse Put­soa would have to sign ad­di­tional play­ers dur­ing next month’s trans­fer win­dow to aug­ment their “thin” squad.

“We need a few more play­ers to im­prove the squad and we will look for re­in­force­ments dur­ing the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow,” he said.

Mean­while, ta­ble-top­ping Li­oli travel to Quthing to face Liphakoe in an­other premier league match sched­uled for Satur­day.

An­other win would im­prove Li­oli’s chances of end­ing the year at the top of the ta­ble while Liphakoe are try­ing to move out of the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

Satur­day’s last premier­ship match sees Likhopo go head-to-head with LCS at LCS Ground.

The premier league has only ar­ranged three matches this and next week­end for teams which had their fix­tures post­poned be­cause they had more than three play­ers away on na­tional duty.

Se­cond-round fix­tures are ex­pected to start on the se­cond week of the New Year.

Fix­tures Satur­day: Liphakoe v Li­oli (Quthing); Bantu v Mat­lama (Mafeteng); Likhopo v LCSLCS Ground.

Bantu MID­FIELDER BO­SIUOA BOSEKA (FRONT LEFT) tussles FOR THE BALL with MAT­LAMA DE­FENDER TŠELISO RA­MATHE IN this file PIC.

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