BUTHA-BUTHE — After flying to the top of the Vodacom Premier League last Sunday, Matlama all but secured their place in the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular semi-finals with a 3-0 win over Qalo at Butha-Buthe’s Pitso Ground yesterday.
And it was so easy.
Matlama winger Litšepe Marabe scored an outstanding hat-trick that surely sees Matlama into the next round of the M1 million-rich tournament.
Qalo, who play in the first division, were frankly out of their depth.
They looked overawed and nervous.
Their problems were further compounded by poor decision in the final third when few half-chances presented themselves.
None of Qalo’s strikers were able to threaten the Matlama defence on a day when Tse Putsoa’s goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhesi could have joined in Matlama’s surprisingly numerous singing fans or even helped out at Vodacom’s braai.
The only Qalo player who could hold his head up high after the game was their captain Lejuoe Moketi.
But despite the huge score-line, Matlama were not razor-sharp either and in truth the margin should have been much bigger.
The league leaders were painfully wasteful in front of goal, missing two one-on-one chances in the second half — first through returning defender Nkau Lerotholi in the 70th minute and then striker Motlalepula Chabeli in the 79th minute.
“I don’t think they were serious after the first goal,” Matlama coach Ntebele Taole said after the game.
“They saw that their opponents weren’t playing well and they took it for granted.”
Fortunately for Matlama Marabe wasn’t in such a generous mood, scoring a memorable hat-trick.
The first of Marabe’s goals came in the 22nd minute when, after a period of sustained pressure, Matlama right-back Tšoanelo Koetle’s long ball found the winger unmarked just inside the box who then rifled past the always exposed Mosoeunyane Qejoa.
Marabe then added two more in the 66th and 85th minutes with the sort of calmness that has made him one of Lesotho’s brightest young talents.
The 3-0 win gives Matlama a huge advantage
“The game was easy,” Taole said.
“But in the Matlama way we don’t regard any team as small.
“We show them the respect that they deserve.
“That is why I am disappointed with the chances that we missed.
“I’m happy that we won — a win is a win.
“But the way in which we got the win didn’t impress me.
“We started working towards this game since Monday and I expected something better.
“But, yes, 3-0 is a good advantage.”
The two sides meet again in two weeks’ time at LCS’s Central Prison.
In the day’s second game at the same venue, Bantu and LCS played out an uninspiring 0-0 draw.
The best opening in a game devoid of clear-cut chances came in the 85th minute when LCS defender Khoto Sesinyi’s well-struck free-kick hit the crossbar with the keeper well beaten.
Today the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular action continues when little-known Manamela face the might of LDF before Likhopo and Lioli take to the field.
Both matches will also be played at Butha-Buthe’s Pitso Ground.