Matlama keen to hold on to Maliehe

Matlama keen to hold on to Maliehe

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Vodacom Premier League giants Matlama are hoping to hold on to head coach Moses Maliehe.

Maliehe guided ‘Tse Putsoa’ to second place in the league last season, missing out on the championship by just a point to Lioli, but could be named Lesotho coach in the coming weeks.

Maliehe was hired as Likuena caretaker coach last November and he led the national side to the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup quarterfinals where they were knocked out by South Africa on penalties last Saturday.

Likuena’s commendable performances in Namibia have only increased the chances Maliehe will be given the Lesotho job permanently by the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).

Nevertheless, speaking on Tuesday, Matlama communications and marketing manager Tankiso Moletsane said the club wants to retain Maliehe’s services for next season, even if he is given the Likuena job permanently.

“He is still our coach until talks and negotiations can be held. We still want him and we want to retain him for next season. I personally spoke to him after the league ended and he assured me that he still wants to continue with the club,” Moletsane told thepost.

He said Matlama would not mind if Maliehe shared duties. Currently, Lesotho’s next assignment is the team’s final 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Algeria in September.

“Look, Likuena does not play league games like us, after the COSAFA Cup I think their next game is in September. It’s not a problem for us,” Moletsane explained.

Maliehe was hired as Matlama coach last July. He immediately elevated ‘Tse Putsoa’ and guided them to within a whisker of their first piece of silverware since 2010.

Moletsane said it would be disastrous if Matlama were to lose Maliehe because it would mean starting from scratch again. He said Maliehe has initiated youth programmes at Matlama which the coach has expressed interest in continuing.

“When you build a team you build a team that can compete and a change in coaching can affect the players and the team,” Moletsane said.

“It is not easy to gel with a new coach, an effect will be there. If (Maliehe) does leave it would be sad but management will have to look for an alternative.”

Moletsane added that decisions on player transfer will be made only after Maliehe returns from Namibia.

“We are still waiting for the coach to come back and he will give the management a list of players he is releasing. No player has left as of now, but there are players that we have earmarked that we are looking to sign,” he said.

One of those players is rumoured to be Bantu midfielder Hlompho Kalake and sources say the deal is done.

Moletsane acknowledged Matlama are poised to complete the signing of “a new player” but he refused to disclose who it is.

“He is there but everything is not yet finalised and we will announce once everything is final, but there is already a new player,” is all Moletsane said.

A coy Moletsane said Matlama are gunning for a seasoned midfielder.

Kalake, who shone in Namibia for Likuena under Maliehe, would appear to fit the bill. The 21-year-old, a Matlama product that left for Bantu in 2013, is believed to have been pinpointed by the club’s hierarchy as a ready-made replacement for team captain Phafa Tšosane who has been linked to Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

Kalake’s signing is also made plausible by uncertainty over Jane Thaba-Ntšo’s future.

Moletsane hinted Matlama could lose the inspirational attacking midfielder after his fine performances at the COSAFA Castle Cup.

Thaba-Ntšo scored three goals at the regional showpiece including the tournament’s fastest ever goal, a 34-second strike in Lesotho’s opening 3-0 win over Mauritius two Sundays ago. Thaba-Ntšo is believed to have attracted interest from teams outside Lesotho and Moletsane admitted the 20-year-old could be prized away from Pitso Ground.

“We are looking to add two goalkeepers, a defender, midfielder and a striker. You see with Jane’s performances in COSAFA, teams are showing interest; you never know (what will happen). For midfield we need someone strong who is very experienced,” he said.

Moletsane also revealed Matlama will hold a special conference early next month where the club’s financial officer is expected to present his report for the 2015/2016 season. The secretary general is also expected to present the club’s general report.

“On the 3rd of July we are going to hold a special conference where the financial and general reports will be presented. There will also be an adaption of constitution,” Moletsane said.

He added: “Matlama is still governed by an old constitution and we are now in the modern era. We need to make adjustments to the laws so as to make things easy for the club. For example, the constitution states that Matlama’s membership (fee) is M1 and we charge M50; the law was made way back and things have changed. These are the kind of laws that will be discussed in order to run the club smoothly.”

Meanwhile, Matlama are expected to start their preseason programme on June 30 with trials set to take place at Pitso Ground on June 25 and 26 as well as July 2 and 3.

The trials are open to players 17 years and above.

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