MASERU – Once in a while there are matches that define a club’s entire season.
For Matlama and Lioli this test will come on Sunday.
The two giant winners of the last two championships have, by their considerably high standards, underperformed this season.
As things stand Tse Putsoa are clinging on by their fingernails in the race to win Lesotho’s M100 000 league jackpot while Tse Nala are all but out of it.
The two foes will now clash at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on Sunday with plenty at stake.
For Matlama it is possibly their last stand in their mission to defend their coveted title. Given the form of table-topping LCS, who have won seven on the bounce, it’s almost certain that anything other than all three points could see Matlama kiss the Vodacom Premier League title race goodbye.
Matlama are fifth on the log, with 25 points.
But even though they have a game in hand over Masheshena they are a full 11 points behind.
That surely makes Sunday’s game a make or break affair for Matlama.
Not so according to Tse Putsoa’s team manager Lebenya Makakole.
“Not really, the gap will probably be big (if we don’t win) but we still have more than eight games to play, there is still a lot that can happen,” Makakole told the Lesotho Times on Monday.
Tse Putsoa’s form has been much improved after their early season shambles but a 1-0 loss to Likhopo last Wednesday has seriously hurt them.
Matlama have collected 16 points from a possible 24 and there are positives to point out such as an impressive defensive record.
Tse Putsoa, marshalled by the excellent Nkau Lerotholi, have only conceded three goals in eight matches since the arrival of Mahao Matete as coach last November.
The champions have the best defensive record in the land.
But at the other end goals have dried up.
With a paltry 12 goals scored, Tse Putsoa have the league’s worst record bar basement boys Mphatlalatsane and Mabeoana.
Two players who are likely to be in Sunday’s squad are Tšoanelo Koetle and Thapelo Mokhehle.
Both missed out on the 1-0 win over Lerotholi last time because they arrived late.
“That’s an internal matter. Let’s not make the conclusion of ill-discipline before we have talked to them. They will be there,” Makakole said.
Lioli for their part will be looking to spoil Matlama’s party.
Champions in 2009, Tse Nala have endured turbulence of their own this season that saw them drop as low as 11th in the league.
But there are winds of change blowing in Teyateyaneng.
Lioli have eased their relegation worries in recent weeks and are unbeaten since the arrival of Thabile Secker as coach last month with two draws and two wins.
In sixth place with 23 points, the league title is probably out of reach for them, but there is still a top four place to fight for.
The two sides played to a goalless draw in Teyateyaneng on Moshoeshoe’s Day.
This time Matlama welcome Lioli to Maseru for a match that will define where their respective seasons go from here.
Matlama are Lesotho’s most successful club side having won nine league titles in comparison to Lioli’s two, and according to Makakole Tse Putsoa’s target is simple.