Two of the country’s most successful clubs, Matlama and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), clash at Pitso Ground this weekend hoping to bag their first wins of the 2014/15 Premier League campaign.
Matlama—Lesotho’s most successful club with nine league titles to their name—began the new season last weekend with a one-all draw against Mphatlalatsane, while LDF, who have won eight league titles, also kick-started their campaign with a 1-1 stalemate versus Nenye Rovers last Saturday.
Midfield kingpin, Pali Tšalong, admits Matlama need to improve their game on Saturday to get the three points against a dangerous Sohle-Sohle side that he says is always a tough opponent no-matter the venue.
“You will always know that the match is going to be very tough, for as long as your opponent are LDF,” Tšalong said. “But the fact that we beat them 2-0 in our last league meeting in April this year, gives us hope that we can get our first three points of the new season on Saturday.”
The veteran linkman noted Matlama’s performance against Mphatlalatsane last Saturday “was not that bad”, but added the team needs to have “ a sense of urgency” especially when on the attack, to beat LDF.
“I think we are slowly getting there, considering that we have new players who are still adapting to life at Matlama, and that we have also lost our long-time captain ( Nkau Lerotholi), who has joined South African first division side, Garankuwa United,” Tšalong said.
“However, despite obviously missing the steadying influence of Nkau, our defence still did well against Mphatlalatsane, and should have grown in confidence after that result.
“We expect things to have vastly improved by the weekend, hence our expectations of a win against LDF.”
Tšalong further said he was confident head-coach, Ndebele ‘Tata Mocholene’ Taole, who led Matlama to their last league title in 2010, would bring the glory back to the club.
On his part, LDF coach, Malefetsane Pheko, told the Lesotho Times his charges were ready for the Matlama challenge and also in good shape to bring the army side their first league title since the 2004/5 season.
“It’s been a long time since the club won the league title and the target is to start collecting points now,” Pheko said.
“We can’t afford to continue dropping points, because we need to set the pace and not chase the other teams as the season progresses.”
The former national team midfielder also noted it was “very sad” that his team had gone for such a long time without winning the league championship.
“I won’t put the players under a lot of pressure and we will treat the match against Matlama, just like any other Premier League fixture. However, we would want to win this match so badly to get our first three points of the new season, that the boys are aware of the importance of this tie.
“I have a very experienced squad and I think the boys are ready to make-up for the disappointments of the previous seasons.”
Pheko also said it was very disappointing that Nyenye Rovers scored a last-minutes equaliser to get away with a draw last weekend, when it looked like they were walking away with all the three points.
Elsewhere, on Saturday, Lioli would be hoping to continue with their good form when they visit police outfit, LMPS, at the Police Training College Ground.
Lioli started the campaign with a 2-0 win over Sundawana FC last Saturday, while LMPS suffered a 2-5 loss against LCS. In the other matches of the day, Qoaling Highlanders host Mphatlalatsane, while Nyenye Rovers are away to Sundawana FC.
On Sunday, Kick4Life are at home to LCS; Likhopo host league champions Bantu , and Likila United, formerly known as Qalo, entertain Linare.
Full weekend fixtures
Saturday: Matlama v LDF, Qoaling Highlanders v Mphatlalatsane, LMPS v Lioli, Nyenye v Sundawana FC.
Sunday: Kick4Life v LCS, Likhopo v Bantu, Likila United v Linare.