Matlama on brink of glory

Matlama on brink of glory

MASERU – The Econet Premier League title is now essentially Matlama’s to lose.
With just seven weeks to go in the season, ‘Tse Putsoa’ boast a five-point lead at the top of the table and find themselves on the brink of finally ending a nine-year championship drought.
For a club with a past as successful as Matlama’s, this drought has become one of biblical proportions during which ‘Tse Putsoa’ were forced to take a back-seat to rivals Lioli and then watch as Bantu gleefully grabbed the past two league crowns.
The gloomy narrative, however, may be about to change after Matlama emerged as the biggest winners of last weekend’s Econet Premier League action.

In a pivotal round for all three title dreamers, ‘Tse Putsoa’ were the only ones to hold up their end of the deal as they thrashed relegation threatened Swallows 3-0 on Sunday at Setsoto Stadium.
Their foes – much to the delight of Matlama’s increasingly cheerful fans – were not so fortunate.
Last Saturday, Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Kick4Life while, on the same afternoon, champions Bantu were stunned 2-1 by Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).
All of that now gives Matlama a notable lead with just over a month until Lesotho’s 2018/19 champion has to be crowned.

Mathematically, it also means ‘Tse Putsoa’ need only 14 points from their last six games to clinch the title, and this is assuming Bantu and LCS win all their remaining fixtures.
With 39 points from 19 matches, the most points Bantu can accumulate if they win all their games is 60 while LCS’s threshold is even lower at 57 points.
Matlama’s maximum season tally is 65 points.
‘Tse Putsoa’s remaining schedule makes the possibilities even more appetising for their supporters.

Compared to Bantu and LCS, Matlama’s final games are not as daunting.
Thabile Secker’s charges have already negotiated the top sides and, on paper, really only have Bantu on May 4 to worry about. And, even so – thanks to their eight-point lead over Bantu – ‘Tse Putsoa’ could even afford to lose that May 4 tie if they win their other games.
It is a good position to be in.
Importantly, the record nine-time Lesotho champions appear to be finishing strong.
Matlama have won five of their last six games – the league’s best run of form – and they looked impressive again against Swallows.

Reflecting on the win over Swallows, Secker said Matlama should have scored more goals but he was happy to take the three points.
“What stopped us from scoring more goals is that we were in a hurry when we were in front of the goal, and I told my players in the dressing room that they should not rush themselves when they get there especially if we are dominating in front of the goal,” he said.
“We created a lot of chances that I think we should have scored, but we got (three) points from the game,” he said.
In addition to the three points, Matlama also showed off their squad depth.

The Pitso Ground outfit were without a handful of key players against Swallows including Bushy Moletsane, who has been one of Matlama’s standout performers but had to miss Sunday’s game due to suspension.
Mabuti Potloane, another vital cog, also missed the tie because of family commitments while regular shot-stopper Monaheng Ramalefane was rested after his travels to Cape Verde with Likuena a fortnight ago.
It didn’t matter.

In came Kananelo Makhoane for Ramalefane while Kefuoe Mahula and Reitumetse Linkoane filled in for Moletsane and Potloane and Matlama still didn’t skip a beat against a side fighting for its Econet Premiership life.
Upfront, Lesotho international striker Motebang Sera was again razor-sharp as he scored a brace and set up a goal for Makume Theletsane and, all around, Matlama looked like a well-oiled machine.

This weekend they head into the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 finals on a high and, whatever happens in that competition, ‘Tse Putsoa’ will be clear favourites to lift the Econet Premiership trophy when they resume league action against Likhopo on April 13.
Secker, nevertheless, refused to look too far ahead into dreamland.
“We cannot say we have won the league already because we have not and we still have games to play,” the Matlama boss insisted.
“We will only be comfortable after winning all the games that we are left with.”
Judging by Matlama’s rampant form, it is tough to bet against them doing just that. The league, indeed, is theirs to lose.

Nkheli Liphoto

 

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