Matlama boss worried

Matlama boss worried

MASERU – Econet Premier League champions and Lesotho’s sole representatives in the continental CAF Champions League, Matlama, go into Sunday’s preliminary round clash against Angola’s Petro Atlético de Luanda with uncertainty hanging over their readiness for the game.

Matlama appointed a new coach, Charles Manda, three weeks ago and he has not had the opportunity to work with four key players that were on national duty with Likuena for this past week’s victorious CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against South Africa.

This week is the first time Manda has had a chance to work with the players and it will only be for a few days before the Sunday’s crucial first leg at Setsoto Stadium.

For example, Jane Thaba-Ntšo, who inspired Likuena to victory over South Africa on Sunday with a brace, was only expected to join Matlama training on Wednesday.

The four players – Rethabile Mokokane, Monaheng Ramalefane, Lisema Lebokollane and Thaba-Ntšo – are key pieces for ‘Tse Putsoa’ and are expected to play a major role on Sunday despite their exertions with Likuena.
Matlama, of course, will also be without top striker Motebang Sera who joined Bloemfontein Celtic last month.

Unlike in previous years when the CAF Champions League ran from January to December after most domestic seasons started, this season will be the first to follow an August–to-May schedule, as per a decision of the CAF executive committee in July 2017.

Matlama’s preparations for the game, therefore, have not been optimal – because the 2019/20 league campaign has not started, ‘Tse Putsoa’ are yet to play a competitive match since May when last season ended.

Matlama spokesperson Tankiso Moletsane said “nothing has gone the right way” in terms of Matlama’s preparations but he insisted ‘Tse Putsoa’ have a strong team to compete on Sunday.

“We are trying, we have been in camp since Sunday, even those who were on duty with the national team are now back and have re-joined the squad,” Moletsane said.

“As you know, we have a new coach and that hasn’t helped because he is working to get his tactics to the players and unfortunately he has not been able to work with the ones that were with Likuena. He will have that chance this week, we believe they have rested enough to start on Sunday,” he added.
Matlama are making a return to Africa’s premier club competition for the first time since 2010.

They will travel to Angola on August 23 for the second leg.
Moletsane confirmed there are no major injury concerns for ‘Tse Putsoa’ ahead of the first leg.

Midfielder Phafa Tšosane sat out a training session on Tuesday as a precaution but should be ready for Sunday.

The majority of Matlama’s squad for the tie is made up of players from last season’s title-winning side. The only possible new face is Leluma Posholi.
Moletsane said the togetherness the players have will help the Lesotho champions against Petro Atlético. Sunday’s game will kick-off at 2pm and tickets are available at Computicket outlets for M40.

Tlalane Phahla

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