Clash of the titans
BANTU skipper Litšepe Marabe says his side will have to show character if they are to beat Matlama in an Econet Premier League top of the table clash at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday.
Matlama, who are the defending champions will be desperate to halt runaway leaders, Bantu when the two sides clash in what could eventually be the title decider.
Tse Putsoa are second in the league table, 12 points behind Bantu. A win for Matlama would reduce the gap to nine points while a win for Bantu would catapult the Mafeteng outfit to 15 points clear.
The Bob Mafoso coached Bantu has beaten most of the league teams this season save for Matlama who held them to a one-all draw in the first round.
Bantu are yet to lose a league match this season having won 14 and drawn one. Matlama have however, lost twice, won nine and drawn four.
Twenty-four goals have been scored between the two sides in the last 11 meetings. Bantu have scored 13 while Matlama have scored 11.
A Matšo Matebele have proven a difficult opponent for Matlama in the last six seasons winning five over Matlama’s three in the last 11 meetings.
Bantu look determined to reclaim the title from Matlama who dethroned them last season and so far, they are on track. And Marabe said they will need to have big hearts to maintain the pace.
“It’s a game that will need players with big hearts and if we are to win, we will have to show some character,” Marabe said adding: “The team that wants it most will win it”.
He said the team has been hard at work preparing for the match.
“The preparations are on course although we have some players training with Likuena who will only join the rest of the team on Wednesday (yesterday) but I don’t think it will disturb the team that much. I actually think the fact that we have many players in the Likuena squad might work in our favour.”
Marabe said they are targeting nothing short of a win on Sunday since it is a home match.
“It is a home match so we must win it at all costs. We are expecting a tough match because Matlama are also a big team and they still believe they can defend the title but we are also on a mission and if we beat them on Sunday, we will have made life a lot easier for ourselves going forward,” he said.
Matlama captain Phafa Tšosane said they cannot afford to lose the match because they want to keep Bantu at bay. He however, conceded that they are expecting difficult match.
“In football, history sometimes repeats itself, and we are aware that Bantu have dominated in recent years. However, that will not be the case on Sunday because I still hope that we can defend this title. Football is full of surprises, so anything can happen.
“We have been inconsistent and some are already ruling us out because Bantu has the upper hand but the most determined team will win on Sunday,” Tšosane said.
Tšosane said they would be extremely cautious on Sunday as Bantu are good on the break.
“We must be cautious; they are good tactically, so we must also keep our shape in both attack and defence,” Tšosane said.
Players to watch out for on Sunday:
Litšepe Marabe: The left footed attacking midfielder has been a menace this season scoring week in week out. He is also the top-goal scorer with 12 goals in 15 matches.
The Bantu skipper has been an important member for Mafoso’s side and has been instrumental in helping the side win matches with assists and goals. He is a player who can make a team tick and Bantu will be relying on his quality on Sunday.
Lehlohonolo Fothoane: He has been on and off this season but on a good day, he can stir trouble for opponents. His defence splitting passes will be key to find striker Lazola Jokojokwana and there is no doubt that the Bantu technical team will be hoping that he brings his A-game on the day.
Lazola Jokojokwana: He has nine goals to his name this season and has been one of the most important players in the Bantu team this season.
In his current form, there is no doubt that Matlama defenders should expect a tough day in the office.
Jane Thabantšo: For years, he has been Matlama’s top performer and regardless of the recurrent injuries this season, the left footed attacker has often helped Matlama score important goals including once against Bantu.
Phafa Tšosane: The Matlama captain has a great passing capability. With the high mobility of Thapelo Tale upfront, Bantu will have to deal with Tšosane and deny a chance to make forward passes.
Tšosane is also good on dead balls and Bantu must ensure that they don’t commit any fouls within Tšosane’ shooting range.
Kefuoe Mahula: It will be interesting to watch his battle with Fothoane in the middle of the park. Mahula has also been one of the most consistent players for Matlama recently and Tse Putsoa supporters will surely hope he will be at his best.
Matlama vs Bantu head to head since 2014:
Bantu 1-0 Matlama
Matlama 0-0 Bantu
Matlama 2-0 Bantu
Bantu 0-1 Matlama
Bantu 2-2 Matlama
Matlama 1-0 Bantu
Matlama 1-2 Bantu
Bantu 4-2 Matlama
Bantu 2-1 Matlama
Matlama 0-1 Bantu
Matlama 1-1 Bantu