Good times are back for Matlama

Good times are back for Matlama

MASERU – What a year it has been for Matlama fans.
After suffering through a barren decade without the sweet taste of silverware, ‘Tse Putsoa’ will happily end 2019 with two major trophies in their arms following a successful Independence Cup on Sunday at Setsoto Stadium. It was a weekend of celebration and history for Matlama and their boisterous supporters loved every minute as their star-studded side showed up to capture the Independence Cup crown for the first time since 1994.

Matlama were, of course, built for these occasions.
In recent years the Maseru Glamour Boys have added international experience such as Mabuti Potloane and Lebajoa Mosehlenyane to their home-grown talents such as Jane Thaba-Ntšo and Phafa Tšosane as they sought to rule Lesotho football once again.
The formula finally worked a charm this year.

In May, Matlama won the league for the first time since 2010 and on Sunday they were the last team standing as they outlasted Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) 1-0 in the Independence Cup final.
It was fitting that it was Potloane, one of those big-name signings, who was the match-winner as ‘Tse Putsoa’ claimed their seventh Independence Cup title in club history.
The honour of leading Matlama to the coveted trophy fell to Malawian coach Charles Manda who took over as head coach in August.
Matlama rode their luck in the final. LCS were the superior side and had the better chances to score but ‘Tse Putsoa’ were clinical and won thanks to Potloane’s second half strike.
Manda admitted it was a tough game.

“My players put character into this game, it wasn’t easy,” the Malawian mentor said.
“LCS is a good team, they play good football. We respected them but it was just bad luck on their side. They created lot of chances (which) they didn’t convert. We had one chance in the second half and we converted it; it’s good luck for us but bad luck to LCS.”

“I just told the guys to be confident enough to play the ball around and to be circulating the ball because we knew if are kicking the ball (forward) we will be playing LCS’s game which we are not good at. So we tried to put the ball down, find some combinations and have some crosses coming in, that’s why the team played a good game today,” the Matlama coach added.
The Independence Cup victory will come as a relief to Manda who has had plenty sceptics of his knowledge of local football since he was hired.

The triumph, perhaps, will also kick-start Matlama’s league campaign as the season heads into its all-important second half.
Matlama’s title defence is on shaky ground because although ‘Tse Putsoa’ sit second in the Econet Premier League, they are already eight points adrift of rivals Bantu after 10 matches.
Manda, however, insisted there is still a long way to go in the race. He said the Independence Cup success will spur ‘Tse Putsoa’ in the league and the LNIG Top 8 when it kicks off early next year.

“We are not struggling in the Premier League,” Manda asserted.
“Football is like that, we take one game at a time; we cannot win every game. We are still in contention, we are not out. We have grabbed this one so we have to focus on the league and the (LNIG) Top 8; you never know what will happen next.”

This year’s edition of the Independence Cup was delayed from its usual October date because the Premier League struggled to finalise sponsorship.
But, in the end Matlama won’t mind as they walk away with M200 000, another financial shot in the arm for the club after they collected M500 000 for winning the league in May.
For Manda it was also a welcome opportunity to shut his doubters.
“It is important for me to win this cup with my club, (the critics) can doubt me but football is like that,” Manda said.
“They don’t know me but I know what I am doing with the team, this is evidence. You can see the team is competing (and) we are moving. We are the champions so we play like champions because we deserve to be champions.”

Independence Cup awards:
Winners: Matlama (M200 000)
Runners up: LCS (M100 000)
Third place: LDF (M70 000)
Fourth place: Bantu (M50 000)
Individual awards:
Player of the tournament: Stephen Heyong Essono (Matlama) – M8 000
Top goalscorer: Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama) – M6 000
Goalkeeper of the tournament: Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama) – M6 000
Referee of the tournament: Osiase Koto (M4 000)
Assistant referee: Puleng Mahomo (M2 000)

Sports Reporter

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