MASERU – Second-placed Matlama on Sunday finally succeeded to break Bantu’s winning streak after the Mafeteng-based outfit had enjoyed an impressive run since the start of the current season with 11 straight wins without a loss or draw.
The highly anticipated match that was held at Setsoto stadium began 15 minutes later than the scheduled time because of supporters who had jammed the stadium gates. Tse-Putsoa dominated the game from the get go, making several attempts at A Matšo Matebele’s goal posts through their mobile striker, Teboho Pita.
Lerotholi Zwane’s long shot from outside the 18 area was perfectly sent straight behind Bantu’s goal minder Ntsane Lichaba in the 25th minute, an assist from Pita. Referee Retšelisitsoe Molise minutes later showed Matlama’s goalie Monaheng Ramalefane a yellow card for wasting time.
Bantu made an early substitution in the second half that saw Thabang Klass and Mokone Marabe making way for Tau Masiu and Lazola Tjokotjokwana. The change resulted in A Matšo Matebele gaining momentum on the frontline with Tjokotjowana making frequent visits at Matlama’s goal posts.
The Sea-Point-based outfit gained more confidence in the midfield and their compact defence denied Bantu any chance to make a meaningful break-through.
The team remained focused while also attacking in the second half with the combination of Phafa Tšosane and Jane Thabantšo causing a major havoc on Bantu’s defence.
The introduction of Motlomelo Mkhwanazi who came in for the injured Keamogetse Wolff on the 57th minute did not stop Matlama from penetrating A Matšo Matebele’s defence and two minutes later, Thabantšo netted the second goal for his side.
In a post-match interview, Matlama head coach Molebatsi Mothobi said his charges worked hard for the victory.
“We have been working very hard for the past three weeks. We thoroughly prepared for this match. I know Bantu always attack from the sides and we were aware that their goalkeeper would lose positioning in the process – that is how we converted our two goals.
“Coaching Matlama comes with a lot of pressure because they a very big team with a huge support. Being Matlama’s head coach came very early for me because I did not expect it as yet. I might be the head coach but we are working together as the technical team in planning everything in Matlama camp,” Mothobi said.
For his part, Bantu mentor Bob Mafoso accused his charges of relenting and allowing Matlama to score. “We should not have allowed them to score. I believe they did not work for those goals, but they obtained them because of the quality of their players.
“In defence, they were more organised and that showed they did not want us to penetrate their backline. The loss is a wakeup call to us. We have to work harder,” Mafoso also said.
Matlama are second-placed on the 16-team Premier League log with 27 points in 11 matches, only three points behind log leaders, Bantu.