Matete seeks  to steady  Matlama ship

Matete seeks to steady Matlama ship

Luciah Phahla

Maseru – At Lesotho’s oldest and most successful club, changes in the musical chairs in the coaching department is now an accepted reality. Coaches at Matlama come and go with the regularity of changing socks.

Since 2010, Matlama have had seven permanent coaches with Motlalepula Majoro, Mohale Mokoena, Khotso Mokalanyane, Mahao “Bomba” Matete, Mofihli Makoele, Ntebele Taole and Moses Maliehe all having had a taste of the Pitso Ground hot seat.
These names, by the way, exclude caretaker coaches including in 2011 when Matlama finished the season under a four-man caretaker crew of Matsoai Shokhoe, Lehlohonolo Mokhele, Sello Seholoholo and Nkau Lerotholi.

Unsurprisingly, the results of all this chopping and changing have not been good.
‘Tse Putsoa’ are trophyless in six years and, worryingly, there is growing friction between a disgruntled fanbase and an underperforming team.
It is a situation that requires a strong character and Matlama have turned to Seepheephe “Mochini” Matete to be the latest to steer the ship replacing Maliehe who bolted three weeks ago for the national team, Likuena.

There is lot for Matete to tackle in his 18-month contract
In November, Matlama’s rowdy fans stormed the Setsoto Stadium pitch against Lioli causing the abandonment of a match ‘Tse Putsoa’ were losing 2-1 but still had a chance of salvaging.

It is a moment of madness that has derailed Matlama’s season.
As punishment, ‘Tse Putsoa’ were slapped with a 3-0 loss and docked an additional three points. So, after going into that November 6 tie unbeaten, Matlama have plummeted to seventh place in the league since.

It is no surprise, then, that the first issue Matete touched on when he was officially unveiled on Tuesday is the club’s fans.
An upbeat Matete appealed to the club’s supporters to not only rally behind the team when the season resumes in January but to be on their best behaviour.
“It is an easy job for me, it is not a new job to me, but a coaching job needs various departments working together,” he said.
“The supporters need to prepare themselves and support the team. I heard from the secretary general (Thabo Nkhahle) that we have been docked some points. There is no football (club) without supporters, we need the supporters.”

“I have heard that in some matches the (Matlama) players have been reluctant to go even greet their supporters because they insult them,” Matete lamented.
“It is not nice. Something we have to work on at Matlama is unity, we need the supporters. When we talk about Matlama we talk about unity; there is no team without supporters.”
Perhaps more than most, the former Lesotho caretaker boss understands the influence fans possess.
At Matlama especially, supporters can make or break a team or coach.
In 2010 under “Tata” Taole and with the zealous backing of their fans, Matlama morphed into an inferno which claimed the league and cup double.
Later coaches have not been as lucky, however.

Mokoena and Majoro, for example, both lasted only a month at the club after falling foul of Matlama’s fickle fans.
In some ways, then, Matlama are counting on Matete’s stature at the club which has been forged by successful spells as a player and coach to placate the fans and salvage what is becoming a lost season.

‘Tse Putsoa’ came into the campaign with high hopes after finishing second last season. They started well and were the last team to be defeated this season.
However, over the past five matches Matlama have won just once.
They have dropped 10 points behind league leaders Bantu.
Most worrying, perhaps, has been their recent displays. Two weeks ago against Sky Battalion in their last match of the first round, Matlama were outplayed continuing a run in which they have played poorly more often than not.

For Matete, who is steeped in the club’s glorious past, this is not good enough. He won four league titles as a player from 1975 to 1987 and two as a coach.
He said Matlama should be competing in the international tournaments.
“I have been ‘Letlama’ since I was born. I have been helping Matlama for a long time; I will continue to do so. I have just been given a job that I have done in the past. It’s not a new thing, I coached Matlama from 1987 until 1992,” Matete said.

“From 1987 we were winning (titles and) playing international games. I remember we went to Mozambique, Botswana, and Tanzania. Matlama is a team that should play international games. It’s just that in football you win or you lose, but if you lose you must lose with pride,” he said.
Matete admitted he is looking forward to the off-season next May when he will have time to prepare for the 2017/18 campaign and acquire the players he needs.
For now, however, his goal is to finish amongst the “top teams” and work with the players available.
He vowed Matlama will not be in the position they find themselves now when the season ends.

Matete’s first game in charge will be on January 7 when ‘Tse Putsoa’ host Bantu at Setsoto Stadium.
“There is nothing (new) I am going to do. I am not going to look for new players now,” Matete said when asked about the changes he will make.
“I am just going to show the players the importance of playing for Matlama. I started with them (on Monday). They say it is mental strength towards the game that is most important in modern football,” he added.

“I am not going to teach Phafa (Tšosane) how to pass the ball. I am not going to teach Jane (Thaba-Ntšo) how to head the ball. These are things they already know but they have to know why they are doing it.
“(They have to) put Matlama first, they have to know they are playing for a big team with a history. Football is not only inside the field, they have to be role models outside.”

Previous Makoanyane XI pay the price
Next Matlama appeal thrown out

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