Lifofane halt Matlama

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Leemisa Thuseho

LIFOFANE came from a goal down to beat Vodacom Premier League leaders Matlama 1-2 at Ratjomose Ground yesterday.

The results also saw Lifofane ending Matlama’s 18-game unbeaten run.

Matlama went into the game expecting nothing but a win. This because a win yesterday could have seen the side being crowned the league champions, to bag their record 11th league with four games to go.

However, despite the loss, the Sea Point outfit is still sitting comfortably at the summit of the 16-team table with 63 points. The side is also enjoying a massive 11-point advantage over reigning champions, second-placed Bantu who have 52 points.

Matlama need only 65 points to win the league. With 65 points, the side would be out of the reach of Bantu and the rest of the teams. Bantu’s maximum possible tally is 64 points.

After yesterday’s loss, Matlama will be looking forward to making amends against Manonyane on Sunday to be crowned champions. If not, then Bantu must lose to Linare on the same day.

As for Lifofane, the win helped them improve their chances of surviving relegation after moving one step up to 12th.

Having dominated much of the first exchanges, Matlama deservedly went ahead only 13 minutes after Jane Thabantšo struck a deft volley from inside the box.

But the leaders’ biggest let down was failing to convert several chances.

Lifofane eventually eased into the game and could have scored just before half-time but poor decision-making cost the side.

In the second half, Lifofane continued to press and eventually equalised after Realeboha Rankhotha outpaced the Matlama defence before beating Monaheng Ramalefane at the far post.

Ten minutes before final whistle, Lifofane doubled their lead through Halifele Moqokola and Matlama never recovered.

Lifofane coach, Kabelo Malapane, said they were desperate to survive relegation and the win helped.

“We wanted the win so badly because of our worrying log position,” Malapane said.

“I am happy for the boys. We had a poor first half but in the second have improved and managed to score twice. Our target in the remaining games was to collect at least four points and we have started well.”

His mandate is to ensure that the side survives relegation and he said he was confident that they would survive.

On his part Matlama coach, Molebatsi Mothobi, attributed the loss to his charges’ lack of mental fitness.

“We lost and it is setback. I can’t say we were bad, but I think the players were mentally unfit. We lost the game because of emotions not tactical issues. We were not complacent. In fact, we worked hard but things didn’t go our way. Now we will go back to the drawing board,” Mothobi said.

He said he would ensure that his side does not get carried away.

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