‘Hard work starts now for Matlama’

‘Hard work starts now for Matlama’

MASERU -On Saturday, lavish celebrations broke out across Maseru as Matlama sealed a historic 10th premier league title triumph and the club’s first since the 2009/10 campaign.
It was also an emotional moment for several Matlama players who were winning the championship for the first time in their careers.
Young goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane, for example, was at a loss for words after he kept a clean-sheet in the side’s title-clinching 2-0 win over Linare at a jovial Setsoto Stadium on the final day of the season.
Ramalefane, called it the happiest moment of his young football career, surpassing even his first Lesotho national team call-up last year and becoming Matlama’s number one keeper two years ago as an 18-year-old.

Still only 20, Ramalefane and his teammates appear to have the world at their feet.
They also have an opportunity to build a new era of success for Lesotho’s most successful side and, speaking as champagne bottles popped around him, the young shot-stopper said he hopes Matlama maintain the determination they showed this season going forward.
He urged his team to fight again next term, saying the hard work starts now.

“I am very happy because it is the first time I am winning the league, I don’t even have anything to say, I am just happy,” a jubilant Ramalefane beamed.
“I think we did well this season and next season should be the same from the beginning (of the season) because it is our wish to keep working hard. I am happy with my performances. As you go on during the season you face problems and to be able to overcome that is very pleasing and I am happy that all this happened,” he said.
In a season that has been filled with stars for Matlama, Ramalefane has arguably shone the brightest.

He kept 15 clean-sheets in 26 league games – including six in the final seven outings – and marshalled a defence that only conceded 13 goals all season.
Matlama goalkeeper coach Shokhoe Matsoai praised Ramalefane saying he will go far in his career, as long as he keeps working hard.
Matsoai tipped Ramalefane to win the goalkeeper of the season prize when the Econet Premier League hosts its annual end of season awards.
Ramalefane also won the award last year and Matsoai described the young goalkeeper as a respectful player who is always looking to improve.
Matsoai said it is rare to see such a young player as committed to his game, especially “in this day and age where players don’t seem to take their careers seriously.”
Ramalefane, of course, has already won several accolades in his young career including the goalkeeper of the tournament at the 2017 COSAFA Under-20 Championship in Zambia when he helped Lesotho to the final.

Last July, at Matlama’s 2017/18 end of season awards, Ramalefane walked away with the goalkeeper, players’ player and supporters’ player of the year awards.
And who can forget Ramalefane’s memorable display in the 2017/18 Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 final when he repeatedly denied Bantu to hand ‘Tse Putsoa’ a rousing 3-1 win?
That LNIG success was Matlama’s first trophy since 2010 and it no doubt set the stage for the side’s successful 2018/19 Econet Premier League campaign.
It also set the stage for last Saturday’s high point for Ramalefane who only made the leap to Matlama from second division Emmanuel FC four years ago.
“Monaheng is a very young player and has determination,” Matsoai said.

“He is brave and it shows he wants to go somewhere (in his career). He is cooperative, works hard and I see him collecting more awards. I think he did well this season even though he had problems here and there. He is someone who respects others and doesn’t have any issues. It is surprising to see someone this young being committed to what he is doing, but sometimes it depends on who you are working with. If you are working with people who respect you and you respect them, you will do well.”
Matsoai added: “I always encourage him that once he gets a chance he mustn’t let it go. Even in the national team, he wants to be a well-known goalkeeper in the country and represent his country. If you remember, he won the goalkeeper of the tournament at the Under-20 COSAFA in Zambia and that shows he works hard.”
“I am happy for him,” he continued.

“I don’t know who is going to win the (league’s goalkeeper of the season) award but I think he will be there in the top three goalkeepers.”
Matsoai was himself part of Matlama’s last league-winning squad in 2010 and he was delighted the club finally ended their decade-long title drought.
He said it is important ‘Tse Putsoa’ make sure they do not “fall back again” and wait ages before winning the title again.
“I am happy for all the players, we took a long time without winning the league,” Matsoai said.
“The last we won I was still playing. 2010 was the last time we won the league and it was the ninth time (we won the title). We took 10 years without winning the title. Now in 2019 we are winning it for a 10th time and it is something special. From now we should make sure we don’t wait too long to win again.”

Tlalane Phahla

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