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Matlama face Bantu backlash


Moorosi Tsiane

Matlama’s title credentials will be put to the test once again when they host Bantu in today’s potentially thrilling Vodacom Premier League clash at Setsoto Stadium.

With five matches left before the season comes to an end, the Moses Maliehe-coached side are second on the 14-team premiership table on 46 points—three points behind leaders Lioli.

On the other hand, Bantu are chasing a top-four finish after failing to defend their LNIG Top8 title last weekend as they were knocked out in the semifinal by LCS. Lioli were eventually crowned winners on Sunday after a 1-0 win over LCS in the final.

A Matšo Matebele are fifth on the league table with 32 points.

“The aim is to go for our 10th league title and we are aware it is not going to be easy and Sunday’s match against Bantu is one of the toughest we will have to play.

“We are playing a bitter Bantu side still smarting from their Top8 loss against LCS so they are wounded tigers out for blood. At the same time, they want a respectable finish on the table so there is no doubt that Sunday’s match will be explosive,” Maliehe said.

Maliehe admitted his charges are under pressure to win a trophy this season, with the league their only remaining chance to do so.

“There is always pressure in football but we are trying to make sure the players remain calm because I don’t want them to start panicking. We are giving them all the support they need because these are really trying times for us,” he said.

“The league race is coming to an end and teams are fighting for different causes but what I have always been telling my players is that they are capable of winning the league championship and it is up to them to do so. Everyone is expected to give his 100 percent to the cause if we are to win this league title.”

After a one-week break due to the LNIG Top8 title, Maliehe said this could have a negative effect on his players.

“Technically, Bantu have an upper hand on us because they played two competitive matches last weekend in the Top8, while we were inactive because we were not in the tournament. This break might have a negative impact on my players’ momentum but we will fight to get the honours we believe we deserve this season,” said Maliehe.

But according to Bantu coach, Bafokeng Mohapi, last weekend’s disappointing results were now water under the bridge and the team was now focusing on the league campaign.

“The Top8 is now yesterday’s news because our focus is on our next league matches. Since we are out of the title chase, we want to finish in the top-four so we are desperate for this win against Matlama,” Mohapi said.

“Our boys were really down after Saturday’s semifinal loss against LCS but they are fine now and ready to rumble.”

Mohapi also said today’s match would not be easy for both teams.

“Matlama are a big team competing for the league title and beating them is not going to be easy. But like I said, we will fight and the most prepared team between us will walk out of Setsoto victorious,” said Mohapi.

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