Titanic battle at Setsoto

Titanic battle at Setsoto

……….As Matlama lock horns with champions Bantu…….

MASERU – It’s a clash of the titans this weekend at Setsoto Stadium as Econet Premier League log leaders Matlama lock horns with defending champions Bantu.
The juggernaut clash will take place on Saturday and could go a long way towards deciding the destination of the 2018/18 premiership title.
As things stand, ‘Tse Putsoa’ are in the pound seats with a four-point lead at the top of the league ahead of second-placed Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS).

Bantu, on the other hand, are playing catch-up after their African voyages into the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup which began in November and ended last month.
Winners of the last two premiership crowns, the Mafeteng giants are in the unfamiliar territory of fifth place in the Econet Premier League and ‘A Matšo Matebele’ coach James Madidilane yesterday admitted his charges need to find consistency quickly if they are to stay afloat in the title race.

With the games coming thick and fast for Bantu, the former Bloemfontein Celtic and South Africa defender also urged his side to overcome any signs of fatigue.
By the time they face Matlama, Bantu will have played five matches over the past three weeks having also been forced to cram midweek catch-up fixtures against Majantja a fortnight ago and Galaxy yesterday afternoon.
Their opponents Matlama, on the other hand, will be much fresher having played twice in the past two weeks.
Madidilane, however, refused to use Matlama’s extra freshness as an alibi. He insisted the champions’ mission against Matlama will be the same as it has been all game this season – to collect the maximum three points.

“Inconsistency has been has been a problem but, as the technical team, we are focused on working to keep our consistency,” said the Bantu mentor.
“This season our performances have not been consistent. When we played Majantja a few weeks ago most of our players were not at their best. This continued into the Swallows game but we are working it out to put our players at the level we want them to be because now what is important is the mental strength of players so that we become consistent in our games.”
Madidilane said his side are aware of how to attack a high-flying Matlama outfit that is enjoying a five-match winning streak.
Bantu were themselves ruthless last weekend as they thrashed Likhopo 7-0 and they will be looking to carry that form into Saturday’s potentially season-defining game.

“We have seen how (Matlama) play and their strengths and weaknesses,” Madidilane said.
“I think the only critical thing is the fatigue because we are playing the number one team (in the league) this weekend and it is stressing us a little bit. But, we will push to win even though we only have two days (to prepare) after (playing) Galaxy (on Wednesday) before we meet Matlama,” he added.

Their opponents ‘Tse Putsoa’ keep grinding out the wins with their latest being last Saturday’s impressive 1-0 victory over rivals Lioli.
It was a display that highlighted Matlama’s championship credentials and sent a message to the rest of the league.
Their closest challengers LCS have a tricky game on Saturday against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and, if ‘Masheshena’ slip-up, Matlama could open a commanding seven-point gap at the top if they overcome Bantu.
‘Tse Putsoa’ head coach Thabile Secker, however, cooled down talk of the title and insisted it is “still early” for ‘Tse Putsoa’ to be thinking of league glory.

The only thing Matlama have to focus on, Secker said, is winning the next game.
“It is still early for us to say we will win the league if we beat Bantu because we still have more games left,” Secker said.
“Winning is mandatory now, so we just have to focus on the factors that can help us win. Every three points is the same. We are expecting a tough game against Bantu.”

Weekend fixtures:

Liphakoe vs. LDF
Linare vs. Lioli
Matlama vs. Bantu
Likhopo vs. Kick4Life
Swallows vs. Majantja
Galaxy vs. Sefotha-fotha

Nkheli Liphoto

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