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Matlama, Bantu clash in spectacular final

Sports Reporter

MASERU — Matlama face Bantu this afternoon in a second take of the 2011 Vodacom Soccer Spectacular final originally played three weeks ago.

On that day the sides played to a 1-1 draw after goals by Jane Thabantšo and Bantu captain Tlali Maile.

One thing is certain, a winner will be decided today.

Big match temperament

Despite Bantu going into the first match as the slight favourites, it was Matlama who dominated the game from the start.

Matlama’s superior experience of the big stage might be the eventual decider. Today’s Vodacom Soccer Spectacular final is Matlama’s third in a row: they were champions in 2009 and runners-up last year.

Their familiarity with the big and glamorous stage might just be their secret weapon.

Bantu’s defence against Matlama

Bantu had problems dealing with Matlama’s front-line all day long last time out and today’s match could come down to the direct battle between arguably the country’s best defender and top striker, on present form.

Bantu captain Tlali Maile has been imperious for Bantu over the past 12 months.

This season he has marshalled A Matšo Matebele to the Independence Cup title.

It is because of this that Bantu have conceded only one goal on their way to the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular final.

However, Maile and his likely partner in central defence, Likano Teele, will have their hands full with Matlama target-man Dlomo Monapathi, the man-mountain striker who seems to be back to his very best.

The advantage of his height was noticeable in the first match.

His ability to hold-up play and silky touch will be crucial to Tse Putsoa’s chances of claiming the M360 000 first prize.

The midfield battle

Matlama take pride in their traditional preference for playing attractive football but in Bantu they may have found their match.

Ntebele Taole’s side have been a pleasure to watch over recent months which have seen Bantu claim their first title since 1997, the Independence Cup in October.

However, pretty patterns may be a rare sight this afternoon because of the tough competition expected.

It was the case last time out.

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