Matlama smell blood

Matlama smell blood

LuciahPhahla

Maseru

Matlama communications and marketing manager Tankiso Moletsane says all the pressure is on Lioli as the title rivals head into the home straight of the championship race.

With five matches to go, the teams are tied on 41 points at the top of the Vodacom Premier League with ‘Tse Putsoa’ having emerged as a genuine contender to steal Lioli’s crown.

Matlama are on a four-match winning streak, the longest current run in the league, and Moletsane said they can ride the wave to the finish line without being weighed down by the expectations facing reigning champions Lioli.

“Pressure will always be there and being level with Lioli might get to our players but its Lioli that is more under pressure because they are the defending champions and they may think they are the powerhouse in the country,” Moletsane said.

Moletsane pointed to Lioli’s recent form in the premiership.

Lioli have collected just six points from the last 12 available which has raised hopes at Pitso Ground this may be the year their championship drought ends.

Matlama are without silverware since winning the league in 2010.

“We are confident about the league and we will go all out to win it this season. It’s the only thing we are left with after missing the two cups (Independence Cup and Lesotho National Insurance Group Top 8),” Moletsane asserted.

The decider for the Vodacom Premier League title may potentially be on April 30 when Matlama and Lioli meet in a clash that has already been pencilled down by supporters.

However, before then, Matlama face another epic test on Sunday against Bantu at Setsoto Stadium.

Despite the sizable gains of recent weeks, ‘Tse Putsoa’ can’t afford slips that could hand the advantage to Lioli.

Moletsane admitted as much insisting they are not reading too much into Bantu’s dismal showing at last weekend’s LNIG Top 8 finals and calling the Mafeteng giants a wounded lion.

He, however, expressed confidence. In December, Matlama beat Bantu 1-0 in the sides’ first league meeting.

“We will not undermine Bantu at all, they are a wounded lion. But, all we need is three points,” Moletsane said. “We beat them in the first round and at that time we were without our match winners (Mabuti Potloane and Jane Thaba-Ntšo) and they will be available this weekend.”

Victory will remain a difficult task however with Bantu spokesman Motlatsi Mofokeng promising their star-studded line-up will give a response against Matlama.

Bantu go into the clash after morale-sapping defeats at the hands of Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) in the LNIG Top 8 last weekend.

Mofokeng revealed Bantu undermined LCS in their 1-0 LNIG Top 8 semi-final loss and swore they will approach Sunday’s game with a different mind-set.

He warned ‘Tse Putsoa’ not to expect any favours because Bantu also need all three points in their quest to secure a top four place. ‘A Matšo Matebele’ trail fourth-placed Sandawana by two points.

“LCS was very determined and more willing to fight than our players. With the fact that we beat them in the league (the week before), our players thought they were going to do the same thing but we were in for a surprise. They put us under pressure and left us frustrated,” Mofokeng said.

“We will come with a new approach for this game because we are now left with making it into the top four and we have no choice but to beat Matlama. We are desperate for three points. I have heard people talking and saying if we beat Matlama then we would be making things easier for Lioli. That is none of our business, we want the top four we cannot miss it,” he affirmed.

With the Matlama-Bantu showdown on Sunday, ‘Tse Putsoa’ may go into the game adrift of Lioli with the champions hosting ninth-placed Liphakoe on Saturday at Setsoto.

It is the beginning of the tit-for-tat the Vodacom Premier League race will be from now on.

On paper, Lioli would appear to have the easier run-in with games against relegation haunted Liphakoe, Rovers and Linare on their five-match end of season menu. Matlama, on the other hand, have Bantu this weekend and a game against third-placed LCS still to come. But, anything can happen.

It is championship time and the race begins in earnest this weekend.

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