Can Mat­lama get their groove back?

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.