Rasta: Matlama’s unsung hero
THE former Spanish coach, Vicente del Bosque, once said: “You watch the game, you don’t see Busquets. You watch Busquets, you see the whole game”.
Del Bosque was referring to Spain and Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets, who has been at the centre of his club and country’s domination of European football for many years.
While watching the final Econet Premier League match between Matlama and Linare last weekend, I was reminded of Busquets by Matlama midfielder Kefuoe Mahula’s style.
When one watches Matlama playing, they won’t see Mahula but once they watch Mahula play; they will see Matlama playing because of his exceptional reading of the game and his ability to dictate possession.
His diminutive physicality has been compensated for by his firmness in his anchoring position by either dropping much deeper, or playing much further up front.
Rasta, as Mahula is popularly known in football circle, is tireless.
In a team that is set massively around ball possession such as of Matlama, they need a player in the midfield, to give them non-stop umbrella cover from deep, along with penetrating passes, winning back balls from the opposition and having a high volume of physical output. Mahula has been doing all that for Matlama.
Rasta does not only do this in an unprecedented manner for Tse Putsoa but he constantly provides support for the offensive players going forward, winning the ball at the right moment before immediately setting up counter attacks for his team’s deadly attackers (Lebajoa Mosehlenyane and Motebang Sera).
Matlama had so much balance in the middle of the park and thanks to Mahula’s dirty work in protecting Bushy Moletsane, Phafa Tšosane and Mabuti Potloane.
The trio played with confidence knowing that they had a good cover should they lose the ball in initiating attacks from the midfield.
He has been one of the most consistent players on the Matlama roaster even in rare occasions when they lost matches just like three weeks ago when they lost to Bantu.
He still stood head and shoulders above the rest of his teammates.
In the last three seasons, Mahula was not really a regular in the Matlama team due to his school commitments but he returned stronger than ever this season relegating former Bantu midfielder Teboho Lillane to the bench.
A successful and dominant team is just like a strong man, who is as strong as his backbone; and Mahula is Matlama’s backbone.
I won’t be surprised if he walks away with the player of the season accolade. Even if he doesn’t get it, for me Mahula was the force behind Matlama’s successful season which saw them ending the eight seasons’ Premier League trophy drought.