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Matlama wins back top spot



MASERU – Defending Vodacom Premier League champions Matlama reclaimed top spot with a 2-1 victory over newly-promoted Machokha yesterday at the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground.

The champions had to sweat, however, and what many thought would be a routine outing for the champions nearly turned into disappointment.

‘Tse Putsoa’ started poorly and they were left shell-shocked when Machokha took an early first half lead through former Lioli and Likuena star Montoeli Sonopo.

Frustration quickly started to set in for the champions who were clearly trying too hard to get back in the game but were repeatedly outsmarted by the newcomers who sensed desperation.

Machokha, in fact, only grew in confidence and they looked like they could score another goal when Lefu Theko dared the league’s reigning defender of the season, Teboho Lekhooa, to come closer only to easily get past him. For a moment Lekhooa looked like a C-Division defender, but he recovered well in the second half.

Thabo Matšoele brought the champions level with a tap-in on the stroke of half-time and that was a turning point. Afterwards, Machokha coach Katiso Mojakhomo admitted it was a bad time to concede and it affected his players mentally.

“It affected us all because we went into the second half under pressure, we were trying to go half-time at 1-0 so that when we make changes it is to defend,” Mojakhomo said.

He is right, Matlama were all over the new boys second half. It is mindboggling they did not get more goals.

Machokha were huffing and puffing, if you threw a mash-mallow at goalkeeper Matebele Mareka he wouldn’t be able to catch it judging from the number coming of times he made a mess of simple balls straight to him; it’s no wonder Matlama released him.

But despite dodgy goalkeeping, Matlama’s winner was an own goal after Lerotholi Zwane squared in a low cross that left Machokha’s defence dizzy and one of them turned it on his own net.

Mothobi Molebatsi did not care how it came about though, it was three points in the bag and he said Matlama are still getting their combinations right.

“If you saw the way we were playing in the international games, if we transferred that energy, I am sure teams like this, that we know have weaknesses, maybe we would score four, five goals,” he said.

“Problem, I think, is psychology, the mind of players but we are working on it because there are many changes, you see some are not here. We are trying new combinations and the players are giving themselves unnecessary pressure,” Molebatsi said.

“We didn’t play bad; they were playing a low block but we changed from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2 and that’s how we beat them. Even our goals came out wide.”

Molebatsi said the absence of Jane Thabantšo, Phafa Tšosane and Lisema Lebokollane was tactical.

What tactics leave out three best players at the club to grind out a win against newly promoted Machoka?

On the other hand, Mojakhomo felt his players were not outclassed and said they were punished for their mistakes and insisted they cannot feel sorry for themselves.

“We wanted to score early and give them a room to play, then drop deep and lead the game through their possession.

We made two mistakes that led to their goals. I don’t think a big team like Matlama outclassed us, we cannot feel sorry for ourselves.

Everything was under control, it’s just that it was not our day today,” he said

In the results from another game yesterday, Lijabatho gave Naughty Boys a rude welcome to the Vodacom Premier League by beating them 4-1.

Matlama line up:
Ramalefane, Mohai, Khemisi, Lekhooa, Mokokoane, Rammoneng, Theletsane, Matšoele, Jokojokwane, Ntsemane, Lerotholi

Motanyane, L. Mohai, Mokoena, Mari, Mahloane, Moepi, Lehoka

Machokha line-up:
Mareka, Moalosi, Ntšihlele, Bale, Lesoeu, Sonopo, Molepe, Taylor, Possa, Monese

Raphoka, Morie, Mongali, Nthunya, Moshoeshoe, Mosebo, Thetsane

Weekend Fixtures (15:00)
CCX vs. Bantu (LCA)
LMPS vs. Liphakoe (Ratjomose)
LCS vs. Lijabatho (LCS)
Manonyane vs. Machokha (Nyakosoba)
Lifofane vs. Swallows (Butha-Buthe)
Galaxy vs. Linare (DIFA Leribe)
Naughty Boys vs. LDF (TBA)
Matlama vs. Lioli (TBA)

Tlalane Phahla

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