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Matlama coach upbeat after loss

Teboho Molapo

 Matlama . . . . . . . . . .(0) 1

Free State Stars. . . . (2) 2


MASERU — Matlama coach Ntebele Taole says he is happy with his side’s prospects for the 2010/11 season despite Tse Putsoa’s 2-1 loss to South African Premier League outfit Free State Stars in a pre-season friendly at Setsoto Stadium yesterday.

In what was their first high-profile match of the pre-season, Matlama started slowly and were two goals behind within 15 minutes thanks to what can only be termed as pre-season defending.

New Stars signing Mxolisi Qaba opened the scoring with a powerful strike at the far post after Matlama’s defence allowed the ball to roll unattended across the goalmouth.

Similar slack marking allowed Aleni Lebeane to score the second in the 14th minute after a simple Stars move.

“We didn’t start well . . . and for their first goal our player was too slow to come into position,” Taole said after the match.

Matlama steadily improved after the half-hour mark and should have scored just before halftime after a goalmouth scramble.

After the half-time introduction of defender Nkau Lerotholi, who looks set to stay with Tse Putsoa this season after trials in Serbia, Matlama finally got the goal they were threatening in the 68th minute through Litšepe Marabe.

But Matlama were guilty of too much showboating that pressing for an equaliser appeared to be secondary to them.

“Football is about goals. They were two goals down but they were still dribbling,” Stars assistant coach Themba Sithole said of Matlama after the match.

Matlama will play in the African Champions League next year and the match was seen as good measure of their competence against international opposition.

Taole said he was happy with his side’s cohesion and the chance to showcase goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhehle who is likely to complete his move from Joy this week.

Matlama and Joy are still in negotiation but Taole was confident it was a done deal.

“I have the boy from Joy. They said they want M10 000, I have no problem with giving them that,” Taole said.

“He will give competition to the keepers I have.”

Taole said he would also like add one more defender, Moletsane Sehlabaka of Mphatlalatsane, before the transfer window closes at the end of August.

“If I can sign him I will I go to the international games with a happy heart, he will be a good addition to the backline,” he said.

Taole said the only thing that was disturbing him was the work on the pitch at Pitso Ground ahead of the new season.

He hinted Matlama could be playing their home matches at a different venue.

“It is behind and I think we will have to find somewhere to play,” Taole said.

This afternoon Free State Stars will play Likhopo, while in an earlier game Lioli will face Bantu at Setsoto Stadium.

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