MASERU – Matlama coach Charles Manda confirmed on Wednesday that Jane Thaba-ntšo is going to miss out tomorrow’s league match away to Econet Premier League (EPL) rookies Lijabatho in Morija. Thaba-ntšo will be watching his Matlama teammates from the stands after picking up three yellow cards in the league and is currently on suspension.
Manda and his team will greatly miss the services of the star player against a Lijabatho squad that held them to a 1-1 draw at home (Setsoto Stadium) in the first round. “We will be missing Jane (Thaba-ntšo) because he has three yellow cards, but all other players will be available for selection,” said Manda in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday. Manda further said they were taking the Lijabatho match seriously, just like all their following matches in the league.
“Every game that is ahead of us is very important, and as a result we are going to treat every game as crucial one,” Manda said. Matlama are currently lying on second position behind Bantu (on 33 points). The gap between Matlama and Bantu is very huge with the latter having collected 47 points from 17 games. Manda said they need to amass some points so that they could maintain their current position and see what will happen at the end of the season.
Tse Putsoa have opened a four-point gap between them and third-placed LCS FC who have collected 29 points from the same number of games. “It won’t be easy. It is actually going to be tough,” Manda said.
Commenting on his team’s first round draw against Lijabatho, Manda said it’s not because the Morija based-side were giving them a tough time but that they suffered from a lapse of concentration. “They didn’t give us tough time because I remember that day we were leading and they equalized very late, in the last two or five minutes into the second half.
We just took them lightly. I think complacency got on in my boys and so we had some lapse in concentration,” Manda said. However, Matlama coach said it doesn’t mean this time around it is going to be the same thing. He reiterated that they are taking all their remaining games serious.
“We are serious about these games. We have got nine games to finish the season and so we have to make sure that we win all them,” Manda said.
Lijabatho coach Thabile Secker said they are also determined to collect maximum points, especially now that they would be playing at home. “I think it’s all about determination because to be honest in the second round it’s all about maintaining what you have,” said Secker.
“So I think Matlama are also out to maintain their position, especially against a team like us that they regarded as a small team. But we are going to fight for three points whether we are playing against a big team or not.”
Secker, who is the former Matlama coach further said even though Matlama boast of several experienced players but the fact that they are playing in the same league means they are also a good side which can match every team in the league.
“We are playing at the same stage even though they have experienced players. And yes, we are currently struggling but like I said we are going to fight for three points, especially now that we are going to play at home and the spirit is good at our camp.”
Secker said what is good about the Matlama match is that every player at his team is fighting to be in the first eleven.
He also said the Saturday game is very important for them to win since it would increase their chances of moving up the log ladder from the bottom of the log standings.
Lijabatho are second from bottom on the 14-team EPL log table, with a six-point gap between them and Swallows at the bottom of the standings and a two-point gap between them and Sefothfotha just above them.
“If we could win three games from now it would be enough for us to survive the relegation,” Secker said.
“We are looking at other teams who are also looking to avoid the relegation and realized that we still have big chances.”
EPL weekend fixtures at a glance
Linare vs Lioli (DiFA Maputsoe Stadium)
Lijabatho vs Matlama (Morija)
FC Likhopo vs Liphakoe (LCS)
Sefotha-fotha vs LMPS (PTC)
LCS vs Kick4Life (LCS)
LDF vs Swallows (LDF)
Lifofane vs Bantu (Butha-Buthe)