Marai wants LCS to build on cup success

Marai wants LCS to build on cup success

Maseru – Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) coach Mpitsa Marai has urged his side to use last weekend’s Alliance Winter Challenge victory as a stepping stone to success in the new season.
‘Masheshena’ beat Matlama 1-0 in the final of the preseason showpiece on Sunday to defend the crown they won last year.
The six-time league champions begin their Vodacom Premier League campaign on August 27 against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and Marai said coming out victorious against top sides such as Matlama, Bantu and Lioli is a timely boost.

“Although there are some things that we still have to work on, we have taken a good step with this triumph,” Marai said.
“We had a good game (against Matlama). We worked hard and ended up taking the cup. We wanted to fix our way of play so that when we begin the league the new and old players are used to our way of play, so that we have one strong team.”

‘Masheshena’, who beat Bantu in the semi-finals on Saturday, overcame a nervy start in the final to gradually overpower Matlama at a bright Setsoto Stadium.
However, LCS’s goal-scoring problems resurfaced.

Last season ‘Masheshena’ had the worst goal-scoring record of the top four sides and their attack turned out to be an Achilles heel in their plans to challenge for the championship.
Marai said LCS’s attack is the one area to focus on before the season starts.
“All through this off-season we have been looking at the physical strength and endurance of the players and they are improving. But in both games against Bantu and Matlama we got many chances — some of them very obvious chances — and we failed to convert,” the LCS boss said.
For Matlama, Sunday’s loss was a missed opportunity because even though it is still preseason, Tse Putsoa’ could have used the kick-start as they go into the new season looking to end a seven-year trophy drought.

Matlama coach Seephephe Matete, nevertheless, preferred to focus on the positives, including the chance to test out new combinations.
“It was a good performance because we achieved our objective of giving new players a chance to play,” he said.
“It’s a positive note because we are in pre-season and we wanted to keep a good level of fitness.”

Matete added that he now has a clearer picture of the weaknesses ‘Tse Putsoa’ need to improve as the record ten-time champions head into the new season looking to redeem themselves.
Last year Matlama finished eighth in the Vodacom Premier League which was their lowest finish since 2013.
Like Marai, Matete pin-pointed his side’s offence as the key to unlocking a successful 2017/18 campaign.
“We have to address the attacking phase of the game, that’s what we have recognised and we will work more on it,” he said.
“We are preparing ourselves and training hard,” Matete added.

“We have a tournament on the 19th (of August) in Leribe against Sundawana, Linare, Matlama and another team from Leribe which has not yet been confirmed.
“We want to start the league on a high note so we must fix our level of fitness and try all the combinations that we think will be possible when we start the league.”
“It will help us to have more competition before starting the league so we can see which players will be able to start the league,” Matete said.
Matlama, of course, will have the honour of kicking off the 2017/18 season when they entertain Liphakoe at Setsoto on August 26.

Now what remains to be seen is what kind of ‘Tse Putsoa’ team will show up when the serious business begins.
“When we start the league each and every player will work hard to have a chance to be in the first team,” Matete said.
“We have to create an environment which will make the players fight for that and we are in that process.”

Alliance Winter Challenge award winners:
Goalkeeper of the tournament: Samuel Ketsekile (LCS)
Top goal scorer: Mokone Marabe (Bantu)
Player of the tournament: Lisema Lebokollane (Matlama)

Mohloai Mpesi

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