Matlama in fine fettle but Lioli still team to beat

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MikiaMikia Kalati

Matlama have been very impressive in their preseason matches most pundits have put their money on them winning the 2015/16 premier league title.

I must say it is really difficult to dismiss this suggestion because indeed Tse Putsoa have looked like a team on a mission, especially after beating rivals and defending league champions Lioli 2-0 in the pre-season Alliance Winter Tournament final played at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday.

While the nine-time league champions have not made big changes to their squad in terms of buying new players, the team has looked very organised which is something I have not seen at this club in a very long time.

It looks like new coach Moses Maliehe was the missing link at the club, where he has linked-up with many of the players he coached at national junior team level over the years.

Against Lioli, the Sea Point-based outfit were very solid at the back, with their key man, Nkau Lerotholi, at his defensive best once again.

Like I said, Maliehe appears to have rejuvenated several players who failed to rise to the occasion last season, resulting in Matlama ending the campaign in fourth position.

It must also be noted Tse Putsoa were the only team to beat Free State Stars during last month’s preseason tournament held in Mafeteng that also included hosts Bantu and premiership newcomers Liphakoe.

However, while I agree Matlama have looked good in preseason, they should also be warned that the league championship is a marathon which requires endurance and consistence.

A big challenge for Maliehe and his charges will also come from the executive whose infighting and incompetence have affected the performance of the team over the years.

Matlama last won the league title in 2009/10, with Lioli and LCS clinching it twice each since then and Bantu once.

This statistic tells it all—that all has not been well at Tse Putsoa hence their failure to challenge for the league title over recent seasons.

The 2-0 scoreline over Lioli aside, I could see there is still a lot of work for Maliehe for Matlama to return to their glory days.

Statistics will show that consistency was the main reason Lioli won the league title last season and the same goes for Bantu the previous year.

Matlama would need to be equally consistent if they are to break Lioli and Bantu’s recent dominance of domestic football.

Yet to achieve this will not be easy because Lioli remain the team to beat based on the quality and depth in their squad, while Bantu also have a lot to prove under new coach Katiso Mojakhomo.

With that said, I would want to pass my condolences to the family of former Lioli and Lesotho Premier league Management Committee spokesperson, Moeketsi Pitso, who passed away last Saturday in Bloemfontein after a long illness.

Ntate Pitso’s sudden death has been heartbreaking to many in the football family. Personally, I had so many encounters with Ntate Pitso that I don’t even know where to start describing his passion for the beautiful game and talent in promoting the brand that Lioli are today.

This iconic administrator was the longest-serving member of the Lioli executive and his untimely death will not only be felt by his family and Lioli, but all of us who worked with him week-in-and-week-out. Rest In Peace P-Man.

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