Matlama loss reignites rift talk

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MASERU — Lerotholi playmaker Lebohang Molaoli is this week a hero among Lihale fans after scoring the goal that downed champions Matlama on the opening day of the Vodacom Premier League season last Saturday.

But over and above that, Molaoli may have opened a whole can of worms on the other side of town.

Before Matlama began the defence of their league title, they were rightly touted as the team to beat given their galaxy of stars.

However, their loss in their season-opening match exposed what had long become a very public secret: all is not well at Pitso Ground.

Those with wild imaginations have already begun speculating that the strife could be part of the factionalism within Tse Putsoa with Sea Point, Ha Thamae and Tšenola vying for prime positions within the Maseru Glamour Boys.

When Ikhetheleng Matabane was elected president of Matlama in February, he pledged to arrest the turmoil that had seen Matlama without a league trophy since 2003.

Since then Matlama became a much more stable club but after winning the league in May things seem to have gone haywire again.

It seems Tse Putsoa are not sure of the direction they want to take with regards to their technical set-up.

The treatment of coach Ntebele Taole, after he led Matlama to their first league title in seven years, has left a cloud hanging over the club.

The players have been reportedly unhappy with their share of the Vodacom Premier League title prize money.

Last December two board members, Tšiu Monne and Limpho Tšepe, abruptly left the club amid speculation the players were also not happy with their cut of the M360 000 for winning the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular.

Taole is credited with managing the situation to keep Matlama’s campaign for the premiership on track.

But chaos has returned to haunt Matlama again as they seek to defend the championship.

Stung by Saturday’s defeat, Matlama assistant coach Khotso Mokalanyane made astounding revelations.

“Our players only started training this week,” he said. “Fokothi were better prepared than us and our players just didn’t play, especially in the first half.”

On the field Matlama were awful.

Laid-back and over-confident, Matlama managed only one meaningful shot on target the entire game and their list of stars generally looked uninterested.

The whole day was a disappointment with the Matlama fans who were expected to fill out Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena not pitching up.

It’s likely to get worse before it gets better with Matlama visiting Mphatlalatsane on Sunday, a side Tse Putsoa haven’t beaten in the past two seasons.

Meanwhile, Matlama’s bad start would have been the perfect tonic for Lioli – the maroon army from Teyateyaneng looking to reclaim the title back.

Lioli spent well in the-off season, bringing in highly rated midfield enforcer Shetsane Ramoseeka and Lesotho Under-20 internationals Baholo Sefatsa and Montoeli Senopo.

Tse Nala welcomed newly promoted Mabeoana to Teyateyaneng on Sunday and it was one of their old boys, Malebanye Ramoabi, who got the party started, scoring both goals in Lioli’s easy 2-0 win.

But the story of the weekend was big-spending Bantu who opened their account with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Mphatlalatsane in Mafeteng.

A Matšo Matebele have stated their intention to compete for the big crown after finishing sixth last season and they have got their marathon run off to a good start.

Vodacom Premier League results

 Saturday: Likhopo 0-0 LCS, Lerotholi 1-0 Matlama.

 Sunday: Bantu 3-1 Mphatlalatsane, Lioli 2-0 Mabeoana, LMPS 0-2 Linare, Joy 1-1 LDF, Swallows 0-0 Maduma.

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