MASERU — Defending Vodacom Soccer Spectacular champions Matlama face an early and unexpected exit from this year’s competition.
This comes after a dispute over gate-takings with the sponsor Vodacom Lesotho, resulted in their quarterfinal second leg home tie against Mokhotlong LMPS, yesterday at LCS’s Central Prison ground being cancelled at halftime.
At that point Tse Putsoa were cruising after Litšepe Marabe and Thabo Moleko’s first-half strikes had given them a comfortable 4-0 aggregate lead over the outfoxed first division side.
However, all was not well off the field and match commissioner Maswatzi Nkome was forced to call off the game over a row whether Matlama or Vodacom were entitled to control entrance monies.
“To me as the match commissioner, as a consequence of the non-compliance of Matlama, I recommended that the game be called off,” Nkome said in an interview afterwards.
Matlama are still without a home ground as a result of renovations at their Pitso Ground.
Tse Putsoa team manager Lebenya Makakole said the club felt entitled to the earnings as “they did all the hard work”.
“The game has been called off by the administration of soccer in this country,” Makakole said.
“Matlama took the stand that it hired the field so it should control the gate-takings.
“At the end of the day we did all the preparations . . . ask LCS who hired out the ground.”
“Personally I didn’t see anything like that,” Makakole said when asked whether Matlama knew about the rules.
But according to Nkome, the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) and Vodacom agreed the gate-takings would go to the sponsor and Matlama were well aware of the rules.
“Matlama knew this because they wrote to challenge the terms,” Nkome said.
“They said they wouldn’t stop without a letter (from Lefa).
“Every team has a copy of the rules and regulations, and every team is a signatory to the terms. So we have proof.
“In short, according to the rules agreed by Lefa and Vodacom, the gate-takings should be taken by the sponsor.”
With the draw for next weekend’s semi-finals and final being made on Tuesday there appears to be little hope for a reprieve for Matlama.
Normally football regulations say a side which causes the abandonment of a match is slapped with a 3-0 loss, meaning Mokhotlong LMPS would progress with a 3-2 aggregate victory.
Although it appears all eight participating clubs are aware of the rules which allow Vodacom to keep the gate receipts, yesterday was not the first time there have been problems.
Similar disagreements, although not on such a scale, took place when Likhopo hosted Bantu, also at Central Prison, a fortnight ago.
Meanwhile, one team that will definitely be in Tuesday’s draw is Linare after Tse Tala thumped Butha-Buthe Fast XI 4-1 in Hlotse.
A brace by Tšiu Moorosi and one each by Mabuti Potloane and Moses Ramafole gave them a comprehensive 5-1 aggregate win.
The final two spots in the M1 million tournament will be decided this afternoon.
In Mafeteng, two teams desperate for silverware, Bantu and Likhopo, will battle it out.
It’s been 13 long years since A Matšo Matebele last won a trophy while Likhopo, consecutive league winners in 2004/05 and 2005/06, are trophyless since 2007.
The teams are tied at 0-0 after the first leg and yesterday Likhopo coach Motlatsi Shale said his charges would press for an early goal to unsettle the home side.
“With the crowd and the conditions it’s going to be tough,” Shale said.
“That’s why we are looking to score in the first 10 to 15 minutes to be on the safe side and to put the pressure on them.”
In the other quarterfinal second leg, LDF will defend a 4-1 cushion against Maseru Naughty Boys when the two meet at Maqalika.