MATLAMA and LCS will renew their rivalry in a top of the table Econet Premier League clash at Setsoto Stadium on Saturday as the race for the championship intensifies.
The sides head into the match on the back of impressive respective showings last weekend. Matlama beat Liphakoe 3-1 while LCS eased to a 2-0 victory over Likhopo.
Masheshena, as LCS is affectionately known, lead the Econet Premier League with 33 points while Tse Putsoa are four points behind but have a match in hand.
While LCS mentor Mpitsa Marai admits that the match against Tse Putsoa is important in the race for top honours title this season, he said it’s still too early for the match to be considered the title decider.
“For me it’s still early to talk about the match being a decider,” Marai said.
“This is only the second match of the second round and it would be disrespectful to other teams to talk about the title now.
“I don’t think the match on Saturday will determine who will win the league. There is still a long way to go and other teams are still in the race as well.”
The LCS coach said the likes of Kick4Life and Bantu are also still in the race for the championship.
“If you look at our results in the first round, we failed to beat Swallows, LDF, Sefotha-fotha and lost to Bantu. We haven’t played any of these teams in the second round yet and we didn’t get maximum points in the first round, so beating Matlama again will not guarantee us the title.
“Yes, the game is very important because it’s against a team which we are competing with for the title but Kick4Life is also in the race and a lot of people are not aware of it. Bantu is still there as well and maybe after five games from now we might be talking about something different.
“So, we still need to focus on the task at hand because we also have our own targets as a club and want to win our next six games before we can talk about the league title.
“I’m happy with the progress that the team has made so far but we have to worry about at least six of our key players who are nursing injuries.
“However, we have a big squad and the fact that we have been rotating the players and all of them are ready to play all the time has helped,” he said.
Tse Putsoa coach Thabile Secker said his side will have to dig deep to win the match and close the gap between them and LCS to just one point.
“It’s a big game based on the status and position of the two teams on the log although I feel there is still a long way to go in the race for the championship.
“I will not say winning the match on Saturday will guarantee the championship. It’s still early days. What I can say is that whoever wins the match on the day will improve their chances of going all the way.
“For us, winning the match will give us an advantage in the race as we also still have a game in hand and the players will also be very motivated,” Secker said.
The Matlama mentor, who also played for LCS during his playing days, said the morale is high in his camp after back-to-back 3-1 victories over Lioli and Liphakoe in their first two games this year.
“I think the good start in the New Year has given us a lot of confidence. However, we still have to reinforce our squad and ensure the availability of our foreign players Michael Mireku, who did not play for the whole of the first round he did not have his international clearance.
“That will help us to have a bigger pool in the race for the title,” Secker said.
Regarding the future of their striker Motebang Sera, who had a trial stint at South African giants Orlando Pirates last year, Secker said they are still waiting for feedback from the Buccaneers.
“We are still waiting for feedback from Pirates but he will get our blessing as a club if they want him.
“At the same time, it’s good for us that he is still here and helping us in our ambitions to win the league but I would be very happy to see him achieving his goal of playing in a bigger league,” Secker said.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Kick4Life will be looking to continue where they left off in the first round having gone for a five-match unbeaten run going into the Christmas break.
Linare will also be in action at home against Liphakoe while Likhopo take on LMPS at Ratjomose Barracks Ground.
Econet Premier League fixture
Linare v Liphakoe
Matlama v LCS
Likhopo v LMPS
Kick4Life v Sefotha-fotha
Swallows v LDF
Galaxy v Lioli