By T’soloane Mohlomi

MASERU – Following “Tse Putsoa’s” successful campaign in this year’s edition of the Alliance Challenge, Matlama F.C. head coach Halemakale Mahlaha is confident about his side’s prospects in the upcoming season.

Matlama were crowned champions of the 2023 Alliance Challenge after thrashing both their opponents Linare and Lioli to go on and claim the M50 000 prize cheque.

The tournament began on Saturday, and resulted in the Maseru based side locking horns with the 2022 champions Lioli, in a thrilling spectacle which was reminiscent of last year’s final.

In this year’s edition Matlama displayed a commendable performance which saw them putting all three (3:0) to the good against Lioli to go on and secure a spot in the final which was scheduled for Sunday against Linare.

Lioli in a subsequent fixture previously edged the Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) 1:0 in the first semi final clash which saw them advancing to the final.

The much anticipated show down between the two sides was preceded by the loser’s final match between Lioli and LCS. Lioli were humiliated 4:1 in that fixture. Once the curtain raiser was over, the explosive final followed and the game was gifted with a single goal this after Linare goalkeeper Tankiso Nada, failed to handle Rethabile Mokokoane’s shot from a set piece in the 20th minute in the first half.

 After what could be interpreted as a game of two halves with both sides sporadically coming close on both ends throughout the match, Mokokoane’s strike would prove to be fatal and the difference as it was enough to see Matlama being crowned as champions.

Speaking to the media in a post-match interview, Halemakale Mahlaha was full of praise for his charges expressing that they displayed resilience and character throughout the game.

“I am really happy with my boys, they resisted the pressure more especially in the second half up until they got the victory that they have been yearning for,” he said.

He  said although , his side did not exhibit a lot of attacking prowess during the clash, he was pleased with how they controlled the game and also blamed the lack of attacking power in the absence of his senior attacking players in the likes of  Jane Thabants’o and Phafa Ts’osane who were in Botswana on work commitments.

“I am still satisfied based on how we performed, we came into the match having not yet finessed our finishing ability as much as we wanted. Scoring four goals in two games is a huge thing and I am personally pleased and I hope the margin will improve as we go back to work on this aspect ahead of the new season,” Mahlaha said.

Subsequently Linare coach Leslie Not’si said he was pleased with his side’s performances, adding that although it was a pre season tournament, it gave them a reflection on how far they were with their preparations of the new season.

“ I appreciate the support of Alliance Insurance by giving us this opportunity to reflect on our progress going back to yesterday’s match against LCS and today’s against Matlama, those were two very difficult matches with difficult opponents, so it gives us a chance to rebuild moving forward, “he said.