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Under fire Taole hits back at critics 


Moorosi Tsiane

MATLAMA coach Ntebele “Tata” Taole has hit back at mounting criticism of his team selections following the Sea Point side’s failure to clinch silverware for the second time in the space of five months.

Tse Putsoa lost 11-10 to Lioli on penalties during the Independence Cup final last October and last Sunday went down 3-2 to Bantu in the final of the LNIG Top 8.

Matlama’s loss to their Mafeteng-based bitter rivals incensed the club’s supporters who have since been baying for the veteran gaffer’s blood.

The bemused fans laid the blame for the LNIG Top 8 final defeat on Taole’s shoulders, who they said got his tactics wrong by deploying attacking midfielder, Mabuti Potloane, in a false number nine position while their main striker, Mpho Matsinyane, could only make the bench.

The club’s forwards, Matsinyane and Mohau Khali, have struggled for form during the course of the season with January transfer window acquisition, Potloane, slotted in their stead to ensure more potency in the striking department.

In an interview with the Sunday Express, a defiant Taole said he considered form and a player’s ability to impact the game in selecting his starting line-up.

The embattled coach said he had to accommodate both Potloane, who plays as a playmaker and in-form playmaker, Phafa Tšosane, who is also Tse Putsoa’s top goal scorer this season having put nine behind the opposition nets.

“There is nothing new about all the criticism I am now getting,” Taole said.

“If the club management also feels that I am no longer good enough to coach this team, then I can just leave. However, what I can tell you is that the very same players that people are complaining about not being included in the starting line-up were also labeled failures when they were going through a rough patch of form.

“In recent matches, I decided to use Mabuti as a false number nine because of his skills in attacking positions and I felt he was a better option than Matsinyane, but still, the supporters are not happy and I don’t know what it is they really want.”

The veteran mentor, who led Matlama to two league titles in the 1990/91 and 2009/10 seasons, said he is still in the process of rebuilding a team that can challenge for honours next season.

“I have won cups with Matlama before and I know that every time the team is doing well, I get fired only to be recalled when the team is underperforming,” Taole said.

“I just need time to get the team ready to be in contention for silverware next season.

“Supporters will always complain, but I know that there are people calling themselves Matlama legends or masters who are creating all these conspiracies because they want the current management to be fired.”

In his view, the team is still doing well with the only glitch being the loss of the LNIG title to Bantu.

“It’s sad that I am being made the scapegoat for the Bantu defeat yet lunch was not provided to the players before playing their semi-final match,” he said.

Should Matlama management decide to fire him, Taole said, he would not return again to the club where he started off as a goalkeeper before being groomed to become a coach.

“This is my fourth term as Matlama coach and I am sacked when the club wins a league title or trophy only for them to come knocking again for my services when the team is not performing well.

“However, if they fire me again, I will never come back to this club because the way they operate is disrespectful to me,” Taole said matter-of-factly.

“There are some people working hard to get me fired because some of them see me as a threat to their accessing the club’s finances. Last weekend the team played without having lunch after the treasurer of the club refused to give us money, yet they expect the team to perform well. These people are not being fair to me.”

On why he prefers to use either Teboho ‘Mota or Relebohile Mabone as midfield anchors instead of Kefuoe “Rasta” Mahula, Taole said: “Rasta is a very good player but I have a problem with his height.

“That is why I always prefer to use him more as an attacking midfielder than as an anchor.”





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