WHEN Mosito Matela was appointed Matlama coach four years ago, he brought belief and confidence into a team that had gone eight seasons without winning any silverware.
In his first season, the former Matlama midfielder guided Tse Putsoa to the LNIG Top8 title ending the eight-year drought.
Matlama, who then had nine league titles to their name, looked like a rejuvenated side and when Thabile Secker was appointed head coach a season later after Matela’s promotion to the technical director post, they helped the team win its 10th league, nine years after the previous one in 2010.
During the two seasons leading to the last title in the 2018/19 season, Matlama tormented opponents not only with fluid passing and high pressing football but also individual prowess from the likes of Phafa Tšosane, Mabuti Potloane and Jane Thabantšo.
Unfortunately, Secker only lasted for a season and was replaced by Charles Manda. Manda was assisted by Matela worked as his assistant until he was also fired at the beginning of the 2021/22 season.
The Sea-Point outfit has in the process lost key players such as Motebang Sera, Michael Mireku, Patrick Nyago, Mabuti Potloane, Kefuoe Mahula and nothing has been done to replace them.
In their first season under Manda’s leadership, Matlama finished second behind Bantu. Although the league was called off after 18 matches due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Bantu were already leading the race by 18 points with eight matches to go.
It was Manda’s first season and for a foreign coach, it was always going to be challenging to settle in a foreign league.
Fast forward to 2020/21 season, Manda has played seven matches, won five and have lost two and Matlama are six points behind runaway leaders, Bantu.
Matlama suffered their second premier league loss last Sunday at the hands of Linare. The side’s first loss was against LDF a fortnight ago when they were beaten 2-1. The two losses saw Matlama dropping from second position to fifth spot with 15 points after seven matches.
I watched the two matches the side lost and I was disappointed to see them lose in that fashion.
Against LDF, Manda’s charges gave away an early one goal lead by conceding cheap goals. They lost in similar fashion to Linare on Sunday.
Although he was later fired, supporters were already calling for Manda’s head claiming their team was playing poorly.
But, the departure of players like Sera, Potloane, Mireku and Mahula left a huge void in the team which should have been filled.
On Sunday, Matlama players were found wanting with Linare’s midfield trio of Jerry Kamela, Tšeole Ranthimo and Potloane bossing Matlama’s Mohau Rammoneng, Teboho Lillane and Phafa Tšosane.
On many occasions, Rammoneng struggled until he was later substituted. Tšosane, on the other hand, looked unfit and was not posing any threat to Linare. It was only their winger Thabantšo, threatened Linare’s backline a few times but they dealt with him easily.
I think Matlama’s problems don’t lie only on poor tactics but they have a lean team.
Philosophies and tactics from a competent coach are important but never enough to ensure success. Even the best coaches must have good players to bring his or her ideas to life.
Matlama may have dispensed of Manda now, but in the next transfer window, the side must get into the market and improve its squad.