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Matlama seek to maintain record

Teboho Molapo

MASERU — Pitso Ground sees a top-of-the-table clash this afternoon as log-leaders Matlama put the league’s only unbeaten record on the line, when they face second-placed LDF.
In an afternoon of a full round of fixtures, a win for Matlama could see Tse Putsoa open-up a seven-point gap at the summit, depending on the other results.
After finishing fifth in a generally below-par campaign last season, Matlama have made an impressive start this time around, winning five of their opening seven matches to collect 17 points from a possible 21.
The blistering start has raised hopes the eight-time league champions could claim their first championship since 2003 and Matlama coach, Ntebele Taole is pleased with his charges. He is in a confident mood.
“We are prepared to win the game,” Taole told the Sunday Express on Friday. “It is our plan to do that (open-up a gap). At this moment, I have no doubts in my players.”
“It is going to be a tough game. Every team that faces Matlama comes more prepared than they would be, against any other side,” Taole said.
Matlama will be brimming with confidence, particularly one player, Litsepe Marabe. The in-form winger banged-in a hat-trick in Matlama’s last outing against Qalo, in the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular.
LDF have, themselves, made a solid start to the season with their only blip coming against Lerotholi in a 1-2 loss.
However, the army-side have been far from convincing in recent weeks and only managed to scrape a 1-0 win, over First Division strugglers Manamela, in the Soccer Spectacular last Sunday.
But the team’s player/assistant coach Malefetsane Pheko is unfazed.
“Matlama are a team like any other team,” Pheko said. “We have worked hard this week, to improve our performance. Maybe the team underestimated Manamela, but they will be up for this game.”
“Matlama are above us, so a win is important. A victory will definitely show that we are serious title-contenders this season,” Pheko said.
Meanwhile, champions Lioli face Lerotholi in Teyateyaneng. Lioli are third in the league, four points off-the-top but with a game in hand.
In St Monicas, Mphatlalatsane face Bantu in what is sure to be an explosive encounter.
Elsewhere, Bokang Mothoana makes his return to local football when his side Likhopo do battle with Majantja at the Central Prison. Also at the Central Prison, coach-less LCS host Swallows.
Today’s Premiership fixtures:
Lioli vs Lerotholi (Teyateyaneng); Likhopo vs Majantja (Central Prison); Joy vs LMPS (Sebothoane); Butha-Buthe Roses vs Nyenye Rovers (Butha-Buthe); LCS vs Swallows (Central Prisons); Linare vs Rovers (Hlotse); Matlama vs LDF (Pitso Ground);  Mphatlalatsane vs Bantu (St Monicas).

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