THE Econet Premier League title race goes for a photo finish on Saturday as the curtain comes down on the 2018/19 season.
Pacesetters Matlama, who cannot afford to drop any points, welcome Linare at Setsoto Stadium while second placed Bantu visit Sefotha-fotha.
Matlama are at the summit of the 14-team league table with 58 points while the defending champions, Bantu, are closely behind in second and two points adrift.
Both teams will be playing their must win matches on Saturday with Matlama chasing their 10th league title while Bantu are hoping to make it three in a row should their rivals drop any points against Linare.
Matlama coach Thabile Secker admitted that this is one of the toughest matches for his side this season. He said if they are to be crowned the champions on Saturday, his charges need to double their efforts.
“These are the toughest days of the season but there is nothing we have to do because at the end of the day, we need to play and honour the fixture,” Secker said.
“We are facing a tough side and they will come inspired by their win against Likhopo last weekend. So, we need to be more focused and if we are to collect maximum points, we have to double our efforts.
“We cannot afford any slip ups because we don’t want to rely on other teams to do the work for us. We have to play for the three points and nothing else.”
Secker however, lamented the interference by some quarters which he did not mention. He said this has destructed the team and his players are losing focus.
“We need to be more focused but it’s not easy because now there are people who are interfering with the team now that they see that glory is close. However, I have addressed it and we just have to work on our players’ psychological state. We want them fully focused for this match.
“This is the last match and it’s a must win, so we need all our charges fully focused especially because we are desperate for the results. We know that Linare will also be fighting back but we need to go all out and score early to make things easier and avoid the frustration that might come with going to the break still without scoring like last weekend against Sefotha-fotha.”
Linare caretaker coach Moses Ramafole said Matlama will have to sweat for the three points if the really want to win the league.
The former Likuena star said they are going into the match a motivated side following their 3-0 thumping of Likhopo last Sunday.
“It is not going to be an easy match for us because Matlama are a big team and we know what to expect but we are ready to give them a run for their money.
“I used fringe players last weekend against Likhopo and I was really impressed because they showed a lot of commitment and hunger to succeed. This means we will go into this weekend’s tie motivated,” Ramafole said.
Ramafole said they are not under any pressure so they will enjoy the game and give supporters good football.
“The season is over and we are not playing for anything, so we have already started our preparations for next season. What will happen now is that we will let the supporters enjoy the good football,” he said.
Bantu mentor James Madidilane also said that they are not going to lift the foot off the pedal as they want to finish the season on a high note.
“We are no longer focused on how Matlama are playing. The focus is on our match because and the target is to finish the season on a high note since we are aiming to collect 60 points.
“We are aware that Sefotha-fotha are a stubborn side, so we need to be careful in our approach,” Madidilane said.
The former South African international said they are also aware of the condition of the pitch (PTC Ground) at which the match will be played and said their preparations have also included that.
“We know that ground so we tried to prepare in a way that will prepare us for such a pitch because we don’t want to lose the match. It’s very important that we win on the day.
“We are glad that our players have been responding well, so that shows everyone is ready for the fight. We know Sefotha-fotha are not easy to beat because we drew in the first leg.”
For his part, Sefotha-fotha assistant coach Molebatsi Mothobi said since they have lost their targeted top eight finish, they are now playing to finish ninth.
“We still have a lot to play for even though we will no longer finish in the top eight. Every position in the league comes with a prize, so if we drop from position nine, that means that the money we will get will be reduced.
“The League will only end after this last match, so we will fight until then to ensure that we end the season on a high note,” Mothobi said.
Elsewhere, relegation threatened Swallows will be hoping to collect maximum points against LDF at Ratjomose.
Likhopo face Liphakoe at Bambatha while Galaxy will also be hoping to collect maximum points against LMPS to ensure they survive the chop at Maputsoe DIFA Ground.
Kick4Life’s hopes of finishing in the top eight will be tested as they take on Lioli at LCS Ground.
Majantja, who will also be playing for survival will host LDF at Mohale’s Hoek DIFA Ground.