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Matlama lag as title race hots up

Teboho Molapo

 MASERU — It’s October and so the Vodacom Premier League starts to get deadly serious. Today sees three fixtures which could influence the rest of the season.

At the Central Prison champions Matlama face LCS in an early season clash of the titans knowing they can’t afford any slip ups. Tse Putsoa, lying in seventh going into the weekend action, have made a less than convincing start to the defence of their crown amid rumours of player unhappiness and uncertainty over their coach.

Tse Putsoa lost 1-0 to Lerotholi in their first match of the season and despite bouncing back with a 3-2 win at Mphatlalatsane the champions were then held to a disappointing goalless draw by newly-promoted Maduma.

Things however seemed to have picked up slightly during the recent Nthane Brothers Holdings Independence Cup where Matlama played better, beating LMPS 2-0 and finishing second behind Lioli.

Nevertheless Tse Putsoa face a Masheshena side also looking to kick-start their season after drawing all their three matches this season leaving in the bottom half of the table. The four-time league champions, and successive winners in 2006/07 and 2007/08, are also licking their wounds after missing out on the money-spinning Vodacom Soccer Spectacular tournament and are sure to give the Glamour Boys a hostile reception.

In Matsieng two promoted sides Mabeoana and Maduma clash desperate to grab a foothold in what will be a ruthless season. Mabeoana have made a solid if unspectacular start to the season and, speaking to the Sunday Express on Thursday, Mabeoana coach Katiso Mojakhomo said he was treating today’s encounter like a cup final.

“To us it is like a final. We have already dropped five points, so we need to pick up the three points in order to not find ourselves in danger,” the former LCS mentor said.

Mabeoana will be hit by two key suspensions, former Likuena midfielder Tšoloane Mosakeng and striker Tsotetsi Tšoeu, formerly of LCS.

Mabeoana beat Maduma 3-0 in the A-Division Championship Cup match in May but Mojakhomo said this would no bearing on today’s match saying Maduma were a different team.

The Khukhune side are unbeaten in their three matches so far.

“You will agree that it is a different Maduma team. To me we are playing a new opponent that we don’t know anything about,” Mojakhomo said. “I’m sure according to their performances so far they will have no fear of us. We have to use that to our advantage because I believe we are the underdogs,” Mojakhomo said.

In today’s other action there is a Leribe derby on the cards in Hlotse where unbeaten Linare, in fourth place, host Mphatlalatsane, second from bottom, who are looking for their first win of the season.

Meanwhile the schedule for the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular quarterfinals has been decided. The M1 million eight-team knockout will roar in life next Saturday with the first legs of the quarterfinal stage.

Unlike last season where matches were played as double headers at neutral venues clubs will a chance to make use of home ground advantage.

On Saturday LDF will host Maseru Naughty Boys at Ratjomose while Butha-Buthe Fast XI entertain Linare in Butha-Buthe.

On Sunday, Matlama travel to Mokhotlong to face Mokhotlong LMPS while Likhopo will welcome Mafeteng giants Bantu.

The return legs will be played on the final weekend of the month.

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