Secker wants to deliver sucker punch

Secker wants to deliver sucker punch

MASERU – Last season was a memorable one for Matlama, just for the simple fact ‘Tse Putsoa’ ended an agonising eight-year trophy drought by winning the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8. Matlama then rounded out the campaign by hanging on to a coveted top four spot in the Econet Premier League.
Those achievements, however, were not enough for Mosito Matela to keep his job as coach and there is a new man in charge at Pitso Ground – Thabile Secker.
The former Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) defender comes to Matlama with a burgeoning CV.
A two-time league winner in his playing days, Secker has made an impressive start to his coaching career and notably guided Sky Battalion to a brilliant fifth place finish in the 2016/17 league season.

Most recently he was at Manonyane where he led the A-Division outfit to fourth place in the 2017/18 South Stream campaign.
Secker has also made a promising start to life at Matlama since joining a month ago.
Two weekends ago ‘Tse Putsoa’ claimed the inaugural Econet Soccer Spectacular preseason showpiece employing an exciting brand of football which left their fans drooling with expectation ahead of their season opener on September 16 against Linare.

Their hope is Matlama can finally end Bantu and Lioli’s stranglehold of the top-flight and, in doing so, win a first championship since 2010.
But it won’t be easy for Secker.

Bantu and Lioli have won the last six league titles between them and boast vastly experienced coaches who know what it takes to win titles.
Two-time defending champions Bantu still have James Madidilane in charge while ‘Tse Nala’ have roped in the widely-respected Lehlohonolo Thotanyana.
On Tuesday thepost caught up with Secker at Pitso Ground to look ahead to a much-anticipated season for Matlama.

thepost: Are you happy with the squad the club has assembled for the upcoming season? Did you sign the players you wanted in the transfer window?

Because I am new here – I think it’s been a month since I arrived – I prefer working with players I already found at the club.
I also prefer not to release any players when I arrive at a team unless a player asks to be released.
I think reinforcing the team and making new additions is something that will be done during the January window period. I am satisfied with the team I have but even if I was not satisfied, the transfer window is now closed and we cannot register any more players.

How do you see Matlama faring in the title race? What are your targets for this season?

This is my squad; they have been playing together for some time. They were together last season and only a few players left. I think they are ready to compete for the league (title). There is always pressure in football; whether you win or lose, pressure will always be there.

How important is it to beat Bantu and Lioli in the title race? How does Matlama shape up compared to the two? Can you compete with them?

It’s nice beating the likes of Bantu because you get three points; however, the points are the same whether it’s another team. Even if we can beat Bantu and Lioli and then go and lose to other teams, or they beat us and go on to lose to others, it is not different, it’s the same three points. However, beating them is important; it is a matter of commitment.

Can you describe your style of play, what is your philosophy?

I think my style of play is different from the formation that I found being used here when I arrived which was 4-3-3. I have changed it. We now play 3-5-2, meaning three defenders, five midfielders and two strikers. It is working perfectly for us; we only need to fix our finishing.
However, we have not lost the 4-3-3 formation because in football you must have a Plan B so that when things get difficult you can change. One thing that must be considered is the type of players you have and then weigh them to suit the formation.
During the course of a season you will also have injuries and suspensions so you will have to weigh different formations and who is best suited for which formation.

With the time you have spent with the players so far, would say the players now understand or have an idea of how you want them to play?

Yes, but not all of them. There are fast learners while some are a bit slow but they are getting there. They understand, they are very good; we even crack jokes and laugh together (at training).

What changes are you bringing to Matlama? How are you going to improve the team from last season? Which areas need improvement?

I don’t want to say I have improved this or that, I think the people that watch the team from outside are the ones that will be able to judge when they see us play. I could tell you what I have improved and then when you watch a competitive game you are surprised not to see anything I have talked about; it doesn’t help us with anything.
I believe people that will be watching us will see (the improvement) and I think it will also go together with our results. Only fans can say if there are improvements from last season; I do not want to compare because results (also matter).

Which players are you counting on to make a difference this coming season?

I think all the players will do the job this season; I don’t play according to the name of the player. If you are out of form I will not hesitate to take you out and bring someone else.
However, even though he has just arrived here, I think Bushy Moletsane will make a huge difference for us and we already have players such as Mabuti Potloane, Jane Thaba-Ntšo and Motebang Sera, to mention a few, and others who are national team players. I am sure they will help the team improve.

Scoring goals was a problem for Matlama last season but your team was quite clinical in the recent Econet Soccer Spectacular scoring six goals in two games. Have you been working on your team’s finishing? Do you think you have the strikers to score the goals you need?

To be honest, there is a problem going forward, our strikers love to play the ball and not go forward. However, in our sessions we have been working on finishing. I think the sessions have been helping us and we have now scored a few goals already (in preseason).

Nkheli Liphoto

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