Matlama coach bullish

Matlama coach bullish

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Matlama coach Moses Maliehe is “100 percent confident” of Vodacom Premier League glory this season.

Maliehe made the remarks last Sunday after his side’s crucial 2-0 league win over Bantu at Setsoto Stadium.

The victory, thanks to first half strikes from Jane Thaba-Ntšo and skipper PhafaTšosane, moved ‘Tse Putsoa’ level on points with defending champions Lioli at the top of the premiership.

Both sides have 49 points after 22 matches with Lioli only ahead on goal difference.

There are four games remaining in the season and Maliehe said his charges are focused on winning their fixtures and not on Lioli. He pinpointed Matlama’s meeting with Lioli on April 30 at Setsotoas the potential title decider.

“I am 100 percent confident about winning the league this season,” Maliehe told thepost.

“We are focused on winning our games and they must also win theirs. We will meet on the 30th, we are determined to work hard in our remaining games and we will do so,” he said.

Matlama are the form team in the league. They are on a five-match winning streak and haven’t lost in the league since December.

Maliehe was again a happy man last Sunday and he commended his side’s display in what was a potential banana skin against a desperate Bantu side. He credited his players for executing the game-plan devised after scouting ‘A Matšo Matebele’ in the LNIG Top 8 finals two weeks ago.

“We watched Bantu play in the LNIG Top 8 finals and we noticed that their left and right side at the back was not that strong and it was a plan to score two goals before them,” Maliehe stated.

With the possibility goal difference might be decisive, Maliehe also stressed the importance of scoring more goals in order to close in on Lioli. The champions have a goal difference of +26 while Matlama’s is +18.

‘Tse Putsoa’ have scored 12 goals in their last five games and Maliehe urged his team to continue their increased scoring output.

“We have to score a lot of goals (in our remaining games) because goal difference could potentially decide the winner of the league,” he said.

For Bantu, on the other hand, their season continues to go from bad to worse with the Mafeteng giants now in serious danger of finishing outside the top four for the first time in six years.

With the loss to Matlama, ‘A MatšoMatebele’ are three points behind fourth-placed Sandawana in what is fast becoming a campaign to forget.

If losing were not enough, Bantu also endured embarrassing attendance from their supporters with fans continuing to boycott matches due to the club’s bad results.

However, Bantu coach Bafokeng Mohapi remained defiant and refused to give up on the top four saying they will fight until the end.

“We are still left with a few more games before the league ends, we will see what happens but we are still confident of a top four finish,” he said.

Mohapi came under fire from Bantu fans for switching the positions of key players in such an important game and they accused him of not intending to win. However, Mohapi said the changes were tactical and were not the reason for Bantu’s defeat.

“We did not play well at all; we did not play according to plans. We made some changes; we took Tender (Thapelo Mokhehle) to the left (of defence) and (Nthotsela) Dulang to the midfield. If you look at the goals they scored, they all came from the mistakes we made. And we did talk about such things, that if we commit such mistakes they will punish us,” he lamented.

Mohapi also bemoaned Matlama’s second goal, a Tšosane free-kick, saying he warned his players to avoid giving away set-pieces in dangerous areas.

“For the second goal, we talked about it even before the game that we should avoid giving away set-pieces outside the box because we knew Phafa could punish us,” Mohapi said.

Matlama controlled the first half and were the only side to fashion real scoring opportunities. Bantu put up a much improved second half performance. ‘A Matšo Matebele’ attacked in numbers and put Matlama’s defence under pressure resulting in a number of fouls and promising set-pieces.

However, Bantu were often caught on counterattacks and league leading scorer Motebang Sera had a golden chance to score Matlama’s third goal and take his goal tally to 12 goals but the striker lobbed the ball over the crossbar with only the goalkeeper to beat.

 

Vodacom Premier League Table

    P W D L GF GA GD Pts.
1 Lioli 22 14 7 1 36 10 26 49
2 Matlama 22 15 4 3 37 19 18 49
3 LCS 22 12 6 4 22 10 12 42
4 Sandawana 22 10 5 7 21 20 1 35
5 Bantu 22 9 5 8 20 13 7 32
6 Kick4Life 22 7 10 5 18 17 1 31
7 Likhopo 22 7 9 6 24 18 6 30
8 LDF 22 6 10 6 20 18 2 28
9 Liphakoe 22 4 10 8 16 24 -8 22
10 LMPS 22 3 11 8 18 26 -8 20
11 Rovers 22 5 5 12 14 27 -13 20
12 Likila United 22 5 5 12 15 29 -14 20
13 Linare 22 4 7 11 21 28 -7 19
14 Mphatlalatsane 22 3 6 15 16 41 -23 15
Previous Sefotha-fotha misses out
Next Lioli ‘warm up’ for Matlama

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