|Man of the match... Motebang Sera was a nightmare for Bantu's defence|
Matlama and Bantu kicked off the 2017 football action on Saturday at Setsoto Stadium and they did not disappoint. Tse Putsoa ran out 1-0 winners on the day, but Lesotho football was also a winner as the two sides served up an entertaining game for those in attendance.
Here are the ratings for the players that put on the show.
Monaheng Ramalefane 7/10
Monaheng Ramalefane 7/10
Ramalefane did a good job to marshal his defence but he was not seriously tested throughout the game. Nonetheless, he dealt well with Bantu’s barrage of long balls and crosses in the second half. His communication and handling was good.
Mohai Mohai 6
Mohai had his hands full with Bantu winger Peter Moloisane in the opening stages of the game. As a result he was not able to get forward in attack. It was more of the same in the second half for Mohai as Matlama protected their lead and held shape in defence.
Tšeliso Ramathe 6
The Matlama captain made several errors early on the in the game. Surprisingly, he looked nervous and uncertain and he had to be bailed out by his defensive partners on a few occasions. He improved as the game wore on and came into his own in the second half as Bantu launched an aerial assault.
Michael Mireku 9
The Ghanaian destroyer set up the winner with a marauding run that led to the cross for Tšosane’s goal. He was strong at the back and his pace allowed him to cover any mistakes in defence. Although his distribution was suspect at times, he was immense in defence. Mireku put in an inspirational performance that was audibly appreciated by Matlama fans.
Nketsi Rankhasa 7
Rankhasa did what was required of him as a leftback. He did well against Litšepe Marabe’s trickery in the first half and his positioning was good. At times his distribution and crossing was wayward but his energy was never in question. He supported Jane Thaba-Ntšo well ahead of him and he made it difficult for Bantu to have any joy on the right flank.
Relebohile Mabone 8
Mabone had an excellent game. He did his job perfectly. It was a surprise when he was taken off in the second half and, unsurprisingly, Matlama lost a bit of their stranglehold and came under pressure from Bantu when Mabone was off the field.
Mabuti Potloane 8
Potloane was industrious playing again in his favoured role in the centre of the pitch. He was the focal point of Matlama’s build-up as he won balls and distributed equally well. It was a brilliant all-round display in midfield. Tactically, Potloane held his position well and this allowed him and Mabone to dominate the midfield. Ultimately, this is where the game is always won.
Phafa Tšosane 7
He scored the winning goal with a brilliant left footed strike from outside the box into the bottom corner. However, overall Tšosane didn’t have his best game. He flashed moments of his talent, including an outrageous flick in the first half, but he was inconsistent and drifted in and out of the game.
Tšepang Maine 6
Maine had good touches when he got on the ball but he was not involved in the game enough. He is a very skilful player and technically gifted but he didn’t offer enough of a penetrating threat and he was taken off in the second half.
|Cruise control... Mabuti Potloane ran the show in midfield|
Jane Thaba-Ntšo 7
Thaba-Ntšo was not at his best in an attacking sense but he worked hard for the team as usual and he had several silky touches. The advantage Thaba-Ntšo gives Matlama is that even when he isn’t quite on top form, opponents still have to account for the moments of brilliance he has in his pocket. This was the case with Bantu who always had Thaba-Ntšo closely marked which opened spaces for other Matlama players.
Motebang Sera 9
Sera was constant threat in the first half and the Bantu defence simply could contain him. He set the tone for Matlama as he bullied Bantu’s defence throughout a brilliant first half display. He was almost rewarded when he closed down Bantu keeper Thabiso Selisa and his acrobatic overhead kick went just wide. Bantu dealt a bit better with Sera in the second half but by then the damage was done. The Bantu defence was clearly afraid of Sera and panicked anytime he got close to the air, especially in the air. Sera was the man of the match.
Kefuoe Mahula 6
Mahula was not on the field long enough to influence the game as normal and he struggled to get into the game as Bantu’s Thabiso Mohapi briefly bossed the game after he came on.
Tankiso Makhutla -
Makhutla came on for Maine but by then Matlama were already more focused on defence.
Kopano Motaung -
The defender was introduced late in the game to bolster Matlama’s rear-guard action.
Thabiso Selisa 6
Selisa generally didn’t have much to do and there was little he could do about Tšosane’s well-placed strike. However, he was caught out by Sera in the first half after taking too long on the ball. Fortunately for Selisa, Sera’s attempt shaved the post and went wide.
Itumeleng Falene 8
Falene continued his rapid rise this season with another fine display. He was Bantu’s best player on the day. Falene started the game at rightback and he was solid and composed in the face of Thaba-Ntšo and Rankhasa’s double teams. At the same time, he also got forward and sent in a few dangerous crosses. With Bantu struggling to deal with Sera in the first half, Falene was shifted into central defence in the second half to solve the problem. Again, he was excellent and he got the better of Sera in one-on-one situations. A superb all-round display.
Tlali Maile 6
The veteran centreback struggled to deal with the pace and power of Sera in the first half but he was always a calming influence.
Tsietsi Khooa 5
Khooa was bullied by Sera which forced Bantu into a reshuffle at halftime that saw Falene brought into central defence.
Thapelo Mokhehle 7
Mokhehle got forward often from leftback but his final ball was often off target. As always, he was full hearted in his effort. He tried in vain to inspire his team to a win.
|Marked man... Peter Moloisane was Bantu's most dangerous player|
Teboho Lillane 6
Lillane and his midfield partner Phungulwa Lindukuhle were outplayed by their Matlama counterparts. It meant that even though Bantu had good moments in possession in the first half, they were unable to sustain them for long enough periods and that handed the advantage back to Matlama. Gradually Tse Putsoa were able to create the better chances as a result.
Phungulwa Lindukuhle 6
Lindukuhle was industrious but struggled to impose himself on the game.
Hlompho Kalake 6
Kalake was full of energy but he struggled to get into the game. He was the furthest forward of Bantu’s three midfielders and he played behind the striker, Lazola Jokojokwane. But because Bantu were unable to get on the front foot in midfield, Kalake could not influence the game as he usually does.
Peter Moloisane 7
The nippy winger was Bantu’s most dangerous and impressive attacking player on the day. “Chuku” has quickly become a fan favourite and he showed why once again on Saturday. He is very skilful, brave and quick. He continuously took on Matlama’s defence and he was clearly enjoying the stage. The only issue was Moloisane didn’t use his threat to get to by-line and. Instead he often cut inside and as the game wore on, Matlama simply overcrowded him when he cut inside because he was clearly Bantu’s main threat.
Litšepe Marabe 6
He started of very brightly and he got a lot of touches in the first 30 minute but he faded as the game wore on. Part of that was not his fault as the service dried up, but he was not his usual decisive and clinical self in the final third.
Lazola Jokojokwane 6
Jokojokwane worked hard as Bantu’s lone striker but he was hardly able to get into the game as he was shackled by Matlama’s defence, especially Mireku. He had to resort to coming deep to try and get the ball but that also did not work out well. Jokojokwane struggled for good service from midfield or from out wide and it was a frustrating afternoon for him.
Thabiso Mohapi 7
Mohapi had a big impact when he came off the bench and for a period of about 10 minutes he bossed the midfield, winning possession and spreading passes. However, Mohapi began to tire in the final few minutes after expending a lot of energy in an effort to establish midfield dominance for Bantu.
Lebajoa Mosehlanyane -
Mosehlanyane was introduced for Marabe but he never had any space to use his pace.
Tsebang Lebata -
Similar to Mosehlanyane, Lebata didn’t have enough time or space to have a real impact on the game.