MASERU — Rovers coach Thabo Thite is adamant the Roma side will not suffer relegation this season.
Last month Rovers, placed 15th on the 16-team log, were dealt a crippling blow in their bid to survive the chop when the Premier League not only awarded Matlama a 3-0 win for the sides’ abandoned 1-1 match, but also docked them three points.
The Premier League found Rovers guilty of failing to control their fans in the match played at Roma on February 13.
The fans invaded the pitch and attacked match officials following a 96th-minute equaliser by Matlama.
Rovers fans were incensed at what they felt was too much added time by referee Moeti Mpopo, leading to ugly scenes and the abandonment of the tie.
Following the league’s decision, Rovers now find themselves with a paltry 10 points, with 10 games left.
“We as Rovers, regret what happened but now we need to move on and focus on our remaining fixtures,” Thite told the Sunday Express.
Asked about his apparent charge on the match officials after the match, Thite said: “I was just expressing my view that I had reservations about how he had handled the match. But I respect him (Mpopo); he is one of the most experienced officials in the country. I was just going to the dressing room that’s why it appeared as if I was attacking the referee.”
The violence has robbed Thite’s side of at least the point they deserved, after a performance symptomatic of the upturn in spirit, since the former Rovers defensive rock took over the reins as coach last month.
A day after the violence, Rovers were unfortunate to collect just a single point when they drew 1-1 with army side LDF and because of the inter-varsity games in Swaziland, the team has not played since.
“The fine has given us motivation to do better,” Thite said.
“LDF were lucky to get a draw from that game and I believe we proved we can play good football. The atmosphere is very good within the team and everybody is prepared to fight.”
Thite, who at 33 is the youngest coach in the league, will agree the job has to start with a victory in Sebothoane against seventh-placed Joy this afternoon.
“We have many talented footballers in this team and I believe we have what it takes to prove all the doubters wrong. It will be tough, but I still have every confidence in my players,” Thite said.
However, even with the fresh air Thite has brought to the Roma side, the stats don’t look too good for Rovers.
The National University of Lesotho side are without a win since the turn of the year, a run of five defeats from six matches. The fixture list is also not promising. After today’s tricky encounter with Joy, Rovers are away to Likhopo, before hosting champions Lioli.