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Matlama blues

Teboho Molapo

MASERU — The saying things have to get worse before they get better could be ringing true with Vodacom Premier League champions Matlama.

Tse Putsoa yesterday plumbed the depths of despair yesterday with a goalless draw against LDF that left them eight points behind pacesetters Sohle-Sohle.

If Swallows avoid defeat against Mphatlalatsane this afternoon, Matlama will find themselves in the relegation zone.

Yesterday’s lifeless draw, at a sparsely populated Central Prison, was a terrible advertisement for domestic football.

With all the trouble that has dogged Matlama since the off-season, caretaker coach Mahao Matete was always going to face a difficult assignment in his first match in charge.

Bomba, as Matete is known, will be joined by new assistant coach Motlalepula Majoro this week.

Yesterday on the field there were plenty of changes for the Tse Putsoa faithful to digest.

With Nkau Lerotholi, Lehlohonolo Mokhele, Pali Tšalong and Liteboho Mokhesi still on strike, Dlhomo Monapathi and Thapelo Mokhehle out with injury and Litšepe Marabe in bed with flu, Matlama were unrecognisable from the side that claimed a record ninth championship in May.

They were young, raw and indecisive.

Were it not for outstanding Makoanyane XI internationals Tšoanelo Koetle and Motiki Mohale and goalkeeper Matsoai Shokhoe, Matlama would have been thumped by an equally poor LDF side.

In fact, Sohle-Sohle will be most frustrated they were unable to open a gap ahead of second-placed Bantu’s clash with Lerotholi today.

After a first half in which the two sides seemed to be in a competition to play the most lacklustre football, LDF coach Motheo Mohapi gave his team a kick up the backside during the break and they came out for the kill.

Seven minutes after the break, the robust Mojela Letsie danced down the right flank only for Shokhoe to bravely block the striker who was just centimetres from walking the ball into the net.

Three minutes later Mokoenanyane Moahloli shot over the bar with the goal gaping before a wasteful Moahloli hit the crossbar in the 73rd minute.

Matlama did wake up from their slumber with Motlalepula Chabeli coming close twice late in game but it was clear LDF mentor Mohapi was the more disappointed coach.

“What I can say is that we are losing finals and big matches,” Mohapi said after the game.

“Our team has four or five opportunities where players are one-on-one with the keeper but we end up losing the game.”

Matete looked at the positives but he admitted the absence of key players was a problem.

“Under normal circumstances if you are a Letlama you should play,” he said.

“The difference with those players is they have experience, but I can only concentrate on what I have.”

“The team needs experience, they just need more games,” Matete added.

“(But) you have to fight for the jersey at Matlama and they are there by their own right.

“This is the first time we have kept a clean sheet so defensively we are improving.”

Still, it was clear Tse Putsoa have a mountain to climb if they are to make the top four, let alone defend their crown.

Lest it be forgotten, Matlama will represent Lesotho in the African Champions League next February.

LDF, meanwhile, have had dramas of their own in recent weeks.

And yesterday Sohle-Sohle’s public relations officer Donny Ntakha revealed the club’s hierarchy would meet to decide whether or not to play in the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular tournament next season.

The soldiers are unhappy at their treatment in tournament where they were ordered to play their third-place playoff three days late despite opponents Linare failing to show up for the original clash.

LDF lost 1-0 and finished fourth, earning M85 000, while Linare pocketed M120 000.

“The leadership of LDF is going to meet to decide whether it is worth it to take part in the tournament next year in light of the things that happened this year,” Ntakha told the Sunday Express yesterday.

“There are things that didn’t make us happy.

“We thought we would be given the points against Linare.

“We are unhappy about the apparent lack of respect afforded to us especially as we followed all the rules of the tournament throughout.”

LDF are the only side to have participated in all three editions of the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular.

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