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Mahlaha takes over at Matlama

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MASERU – Matlama’s new coaching staff led by Halemakale Mahlaha has been thrown into the deep end to replace league-winning coach Mothobi Molebatsi who quit the champions on Sunday after he was assaulted by a supporter.

Molebatsi resigned after he was struck by a Matlama fan in Morija following a 1-0 defeat against Lijabatho on Sunday.

His replacement Mahlaha is being assisted by former Matlama coach Mosito Matela and the duo had a short training session with the squad on Tuesday and continued to work with the players yesterday.

Apart from being a major embarrassment for the club, the timing of Molebatsi’s departure could not be worse.

On Sunday, ‘Tse Putsoa’ face title rivals Bantu at Setsoto Stadium and Mahlaha and his crew have a big task on their hands to arrest Matlama’s slide.

The champions go into Sunday’s game on the back of back-to-back defeats and a loss to Bantu would suddenly throw their title defence into disarray with a tricky tie against Swallows coming next weekend before Matlama face another title contender in Lesotho Defence Force the following week.

‘Tse Putsoa’ started the season like a house on fire winning their opening four matches and were cruising at the top of the league.

However, losses to Lesotho Correctional Services and, shockingly, to Lijabatho have dropped Matlama to fourth, one point behind Bantu who lead the league after seven games.

A defeat on Sunday would open an unwanted gap to Bantu and Mahlaha said he would have liked to have more time with the squad to work on their plans and tactical approach.

“It is too soon for our tactical approach; we don’t have time; we have to correct what we do on and off the ball. Also, I think we have to fix our structure, Matlama has big players and they have played together for a long time,” Mahlaha said.

Molebatsi, who guided Matlama to their 11th title last season, was reportedly unhappy with how things were going at Pitso Ground and the attack was the final straw for him.

Matlama’s results this season:

Fortunately for the new coaches, Matlama’s squad depth is the best it has been in several seasons after the club made numerous reinforcements in the offseason.

Mahlaha, who coached relegated Likhopo last season, said the players have been positive during training sessions and the first thing he noticed about them was their mentality and how refreshed they looked.

Matlama said Mahlaha and Matela will coach the team temporarily while they look for a permanent successor.

Before this week Mahlaha had been busy with his football academy, the New Star Soccer Academy, which he launched in August after leaving Likhopo in May.

Matela was also working with him at the academy along with Mohaila Letseka, Thabile Secker, Neo Mokemane and Isaiah Mosala.

Mahlaha said it was difficult for him to leave the project as more players were starting to enrol but said he believes the coaches left behind will steer the ship.

“It’s worse because I came here with Matela, this means I will not see them regularly; maybe on weekends I will still go and check on them,” Mahlaha said.

“I believe everything happens for a reason and God will guide us going forward from now on.”

Tlalane Phahla

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