Matlama face Angolan giants

Matlama face Angolan giants

MASERU – Lesotho champions Matlama will play Angolan counterparts Petro Atlético de Luanda later this month to open their 2019/20 CAF Champions League campaign.
Matlama make a return to Africa’s premier club competition for the first time since 2010.
Their first task back is to host the first leg on Sunday, 11 August at Setsoto Stadium before travelling to Angola on August 23 for the return leg.
The CAF Champions League draw was made last week and, as a result of Matlama’s African date, the off-season Econet Soccer Spectacular tournament has been rearranged by the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and sponsors, Econet.

The four-team preseason tournament was initially scheduled to be played over two weekends at the end of August, however, it will now be played on one weekend.
The semi-final games will be played on August 31 with the finals the following day, September 1.
The change is to allow Matlama to focus on their tie against Petro Atlético de Luanda if they are voted into the Econet Soccer Spectacular, as anticipated.
Reigning league titleholders Matlama are also the defending champions of the Econet Soccer Spectacular and, as one of the country’s most popular clubs, are likely to make the four-team voting cut again.
“Econet Premier League (EPL) and Econet Soccer Spectacular (ESS) champion Matlama FC is competing in the preliminary games of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at around the same time that a pre-season ESS tournament is scheduled,” the Premier League said in a statement this week.
“In support of Matlama FC, Econet Telecom Lesotho and the Premier League Management Committee compressed a booked two weekend tournament to be played in one weekend.”

The participants in the Econet Soccer Spectacular are determined by an SMS vote which will close a few days before the tournament is played. All 14 Econet Premier League teams are eligible but only four sides with the most votes will face-off for the M100 000 jackpot.
“ESS tournament which was scheduled to be played over two consecutive Saturdays, 24th and 31st August 2019 will take place on Saturday 31st August and Sunday 1st September 2019 at the Setsoto Stadium,” the Premier League said.
“This will give the reigning ESS champions a chance to defend its ESS title. All premier league teams will also get more time to increase their votes since the closing date for voting has also shifted by a week,” the league added.
Matlama have been hard at training preparing themselves for the CAF Champions League.

This week, ‘Tse Putsoa’ began doing gym work at Lehakoe Recreational Centre and have also been going through their paces with numerous friendly games.
On Wednesday, they faced the national team Likuena in a practice game at Setsoto. Likuena were preparing for the second leg of their 2020 CAF African Nations Championship qualifier against South Africa on Sunday in Soweto.
The Econet Soccer Spectacular is not the only preseason competition Matlama are slated for as they will be involved in the annual Alliance Winter Challenge scheduled for August 17 and 18. The tournament is hosted by Matlama’s sponsors, Alliance Insurance, and will be played at Setsoto.
Fellow Alliance partners, Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS), will also take part with Bantu set to be the tournament’s guest team.
Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Matlama spokesperson Tankiso Moletsane admitted some of their preseason games did not go ahead as planned.

“Last week, we were hoping to play Botswana Defence Force XI in Maputsoe but the game did not go on but we are working hard to prepare ourselves, not only for CAF (Champions League) but also for the upcoming season,” he said.
Moletsane also admitted there is uncertainty over the futures of several players whose contracts with ‘Tse Putsoa’ are coming to an end. He said it is unclear if the players will stay with the champions or not while some, including Khotso Molulela, have not reported for pre-season duty yet.
Last week midfield kingpin Bushy Moletsane left to join Lioli after his Matlama deal ended.
The good news for Matlama fans, Moletsane revealed, is that highly-rated midfielder Kefuoe Mahula has committed his future to the club by signing a new deal with ‘Tse Putsoa’.

Tlalane Phahla

 

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