Matlama, Bantu shift focus to league run-in

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Mikia Kalati

ECONET Premier League giants Bantu, Matlama and LCS will this weekend shift their focus to the run in for the championship following a disappointing weekend in the LNIG Top8.

Tse Putsoa and Bantu were both eliminated in the semi-finals while LCS suffered yet another cup final heartbreak losing 2-1 to LDF.

Matlama, who are chasing their record 10th Premier League title, are at the summit of the Econet Premier League standings with 47 points.

They have LCS breathing down their neck on second position with 42 points but the Mpitsa Marai coached side has played one game more than Matlama.

Bantu, who suffered a 2-1 defeat to LMPS in their last league match, are third with 39 points and have two games in hand against the two teams above them.

A Matšo Matebele coach James Madidilane, admitted that his side cannot afford to drop any points if they are two put leaders Matlama under pressure in the remaining matches.

Bantu’s title ambitions will be tested against high riding LDF, who go into the match a week after ending a decade-long drought for a major trophy by winning the LNIG Top8.

The two teams faced each other in the semi-finals last Saturday with the army side winning the encounter on penalties.

The Mafeteng outfit has enjoyed a lot of success under Madidliane, who has guided them to back-to-back league titles as well as the LNIG Top8 but are now in danger of finishing their first campaign without a trophy under the former South African international.

“It’s very important to win all our remaining matches because the league title is the only remaining chance for us as far as silverware is concerned for this season,” Madidilane said.

“That of course also depends on how Matlama plays but if we cannot make it, finishing second will not be bad. However, our target was to defend our league title.”

The former Bloemfontein Celtic defender admitted that his side did not have the best of campaigns under his mentorship as it was also the first time that they have lost a cup campaign in the semi-final.

He indicated that they could be a need to reinforce their team since they lacked consistency.

“It was the first time that we have been eliminated in the semi-final in a cup competition under my mentorship as we have previously only lost in the finals. We also had a slow start to the season. It was not really a good season.

“This season we lacked consistency compared to the previous two seasons. We have been blowing hot and cold and in the end it worked against us.

“Yes, it’s also true that age is catching up with a few of our players and we have had to change our team regularly to rest them. We were inconsistent but if we go for a season without a trophy, then it will be bad for the team.

“Our supporters were used to winning trophies and if in the end we must reinforce the team to be competitive again then, be it.

“I think the whole club will have to look back and see where we had a problem. That will help us to comeback a better team next season,” he said.

Matlama coach Thabile Secker expressed disappointment after failing to bag the LNIG Top8 as their plan is to win a double this season as they have already won the Independence Top4.

He however said he has made peace and accepted that they cannot always win all trophies and must move on from the cup competition disappointment.

Tse Putsoa will face the test of revived Likhopo in the Maseru derby at Ratjomose Barracks Ground on Saturday.

“As much as we wanted to win the LNIG Top8, you have to accept that in football, you cannot win everything.

“We have to learn from it and do everything we can to win the league title.

“I’m not saying the players did not do well. They gave their best but unfortunately things did not go our way,” Secker said.

Secker said there are a lot of positives to take forward as his team only lost on penalties against a determined LCS team in the semi-final.

“There are a lot of positives because we lost on penalties and did not conceded a goal during the 90 minutes despite playing against a good LCS team.

“We must put it behind us and look at what is ahead of us. We are going back to the drawing board to rectify the mistakes we made,” Secker said.

Econet Premier League fixture

Saturday

Matlama v Likhopo

Swallows v Linare

Galaxy v Liphakoe

Majantja v LCS

Sunday

Kick4Life v LMPS

Bantu v LDF

Sefotha-fotha v Lioli

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