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Matlama in CAF tough test


Chris Theko

The 2020/21 Vodacom Premier League (VPL) champions, Matlama FC, have been drawn against Cameroon’s Cotonsport in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champion’s league preliminary fixtures.

Matlama are returning to the continent’s premier club competition after two years.

Their first task after the draw is to host the first leg of the two-leg tie on the week of 9– 11 September 2022.

The match is expected to be hosted in Dobsonville, Johannesburg in South Africa, this being the home ground for Lesotho international football matches due to the suspension of the country’s only international ground, Setsoto Stadium.

Setsoto stadium was barred by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) from hosting any FIFA fixtures in May 2021.

Amongst other things called out by the international football body were the worn-out playing turf, the dilapidated change rooms and poor sanitation of the stadium.

Since then, the 20,000-capacity multipurpose stadium is quickly turning into a white horse as it was last used in December 2021 during the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 games.

Meanwhile, the Lesotho premier league’s champions will have to host their home game away from home.

The return leg is expected to be played in Cameroon at a yet-to-be-confirmed venue on the week of 16 – 18 September 2022.

Following the draw which was conducted on Tuesday in Cairo, Egypt, Matlama Communications and marketing manager, Tankiso Moletsane told this publication that his team is ready for the task to make it past the group preliminaries. 

Moletsane highlighted that the current Matlama squad is made up of a majority of players who were part of the team during the 2019 CAF champion’s league exploits. 

“We believe in ourselves more than anything, thus, we will go into the two ties with the will to progress past the preliminaries and hopefully get into the group stages,” Moletsane said. 

“Most of our players are well experienced with international games because some of them have featured in the national senior team, as well as Matlama CAF contest during the 2010 campaign when we played against SuperSport United. Also, the majority of the squad was part of the team two years ago when we played against Petro de Luanda in the same competition. This gives the technical team a strong belief that the team will approach the two legs with a no-fear mentality.”

Tse Putsoa has never made it past the preliminary stages of the continent’s interclub competition in their three appearances in 2004, 2011 and 2020.

This year is their fourth appearance and Moletsane believes their squad’s depth is the magic they have been missing.

Matlama Captain Phafa TÅ¡osane, Lisema Lebokollane, and Jane ThabantÅ¡o are some of the long-serving players who have experience in the competition and the national senior team Likuena. 

“The intention this time around is not to go make an appearance, but to make our name known by going to compete in the group stages for the first time”

“We plan to take advantage of the Alliance Winter Challenge and also to have one or two international friendlies with clubs in South Africa. This will give the coaches enough time to test their combinations because we have a very large team to be utilised,” Moletsane said.

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