Can Matlama get their groove back?
THE poor showing by premier league title runners-up, Matlama, during their recent pre-season friendly matches has raised concerns about their readiness for the new season.
Matlama last season took the fight for the premiership title right down to the wire against Lioli, with the matter only settled on the final day of the campaign.
However, that intensity was not evident in Tse Putsoa’s performances during the Alliance Winter Challenge last month. Most pundits expected them to win the two-day tournament, since they faced off with a youthful LCS side in the final.
LCS coach Mpitsa Marai mostly fielded players who were on trials and youngsters who were being promoted to the senior team. However, Matlama fielded their tried and tested stars but still lost.
Expectations were also high that the Sea Point-based team would fare well against Township Rollers last Saturday, but again Matlama lost the match 2-1.
The former Botswana champions were in the country for a oneday three-team tournament and started their tour of Lesotho with a match against Bantu which A Matšo Matebele won 2-1.
So, by the time Township Rollers faced off with Matlama, one would have expected Tse Putsoa to take charge of the match since they had fresh legs. But that was not the case, as Rollers looked the better side despite playing their second match of the day.
To cut a long story short, Matlama have not been convincing in their preseason and, hopefully, it is not a sign of what is coming.
The country’s most success- ful side has shown a lot of promise since Moses Maliehe took over the coaching reins at the start of the 2015/16 season.
One expects that by now, Maliehe would be settled at the club going into his second season in charge. He also reinforced his squad with a number of quality players who were unveiled during their pre-season matches.
Tse Putsoa have also managed to retain all the stars of the previous campaign who took the team to the verge of ending their six-year wait for a league title.
Most of those players were also part of the national team’s successful campaign at the regional COSAFA Cup held in Namibia in June.
Among them was Jane ThabaNtšo, who is Matlama’s second top goal scorer for last season and Likuena’s top goal scorer in Namibia with three goals.
Mabuti Potloane and Kefuoe Mahula also performed well for the national team and were expected to continue with that form for their club ahead of the new season.
If the preseason games are anything to go by, the new premier league season is going to be very tough, and Tse Putsoa will have to be at their best to wrestle the league title away from Lioli.
The league champions have made their intention to retain their crown apparent by reinforcing their squad.
Last season’s third place holders, LCS, proved during the recent Alliance Insurance tournament they are no pushovers. Bantu also look like a team on a mission to make up lost ground following last season’s disappointments.
MATLAMA midfielder Phafa Tšosane (right) in action against Township Rollers last weekend at Setsoto stadium.