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Bantu suffer major setback

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…as Matlama hand them a 1-2 defeat

Leemisa Thuseho

VODACOM Premier League log leaders, Bantu’s title aspirations suffered a major setback yesterday when they lost 1-2 to defending champions, Matlama, in a match played at Setsoto Stadium.

Bantu’s loss has granted second-placed LDF an opportunity to narrow the gap between them provided the latter win their game today against Lijabatho at Ratjomose Ground in Maseru.

However, despite the disappointing loss, Bantu are still on top of the log with 52 points while LDF are on 47 points. A win for LDF will see them be on 50 points, just two points behind the leaders.

As for Matlama they remain on position five with 44 points.

Yesterday’s highly anticipated encounter between fan favourities Bantu and Matlama was delayed by 30 minutes as an estimated 8000 people jostled at the gates to get into the stadium.

Prime Minister Sam Matekane and Gender, Youth, Sports and Social Development Minister, Pitso Lesaoana, also attended the match.

Bantu made a promising start dominating ball possession. Their efforts almost paid off when Motlomelo Mkwanazi’s well taken header hit the side net on the 3rd minute from a corner kick by Leluma Posholi.

Despite Bantu’s dominance, it was Matlama who broke the deadlock, thanks to a cracker from Jane Thabants’o.

Thabants’o was back again a minute later to haunt the Bantu but assistant referee Lesupi Puputla flagged him off side.

Bantu were presented with an opportunity to get back into the game on 22 minutes but Thabo Lesaoana squandered it shooting by poorly from the edge of the box.

Matlama threatened to extend their lead on the 25th minute when Lazalo Jokojokwana made a cut in run with the ball outpacing Bantu defender Motlomelo Mkwanazi. However, Bantu goalkeeper Thabo Selisa, was there to protect his post.

While Bantu were struggling to get a goal things turned worse for them on the 28th minute when Matlama doubled the lead through Phafa Ts’osane after Bantu defenders failed to clear his effort in the box.

Bantu coach, Abram Mongoya was quick to make a substitution bringing in former captain, Lits’epe Marabe, and Lindokuhle Phungulwa for Leluma Posholi and Thato Sello respectively in an effort to refresh his midfield and bring a sense of urgency upfront.

The substitution finally paid off on 32nd minute when Marabe pulled one back for Bantu. This was his first goal since joining the team during the January transfer window.

Bantu came back from the break still controlling the pace but Matlama had upped their game and able to absorb the pressure. They proved to be a tough nut to crack in defensive situations and did well to ward off Bantu attacks.

The flow of the game was disturbed by wind and rain in the second half.

Matlama coach, Halemakale Mahlaha, congratulated his players for the win citing that they had mastered their game plan for the day.

“The boys deserve credit. They played well and according to plan. They were motived during our training sessions and that worked for us,” Mahlaha said.

Despite being on position five with only seven game to go, he said the champions can’t be ruled out of the title race.

“We are still contesting and we will fight until the last game,” Mahlaha said.

On his part, Bantu coach, Mongoya said he was confident that they would bounce back and continue with their title chase.

“Losing is part of the game. We will go back to the drawing board. We knew it was not going to be easy for us because every team wants to beat us,” Mongoya said.

In other league matches yesterday, Lifofane beat Manonyane 1-0 at Butha-Buthe Pitso Ground while LCS edged Galaxy 0-1 during a match played Leribe Distric Football Association (DiFA) Stadium in Maputsoe.

LMPS handed Naughty Boys a 0-2 defeat at Leshoboro Stadium in Mafeteng.