When Police XI faced off with champions Township Rollers in the Premier League opener last Sunday in Molepolole, Police XI new head coach Maitumelo ‘Junior’ Letlamoreng was a man under tremendous pressure.
The new tactician has just ascended to the position following the retirement of Isaiah ‘Sthanda’ Mogwadi who has been in charge of the club for over a decade.
Letlamoreng, who was wearing a grey suit, together with his assistant Summer Ncube and goalkeeper Bishop Nakedi, looked calm and silently walked to their dugout.
As the opposition fans continued to make intimidating noise, Letlamoreng held a brief meeting before kick off with his charges as a way motivating them.
It was a big moment for the Mahalapye-born tactician as he was going to sit on the bench for the first time as the lead man for a Premier League club.
“I was looking forward to the game. As much as this was my first competitive game, I have already been in charge for five (friendly) games and I knew what to expect. This is a challenging position but I’m grateful to have a supportive technical team,” he said.
Ahead of the clash, many bookmakers predicted a baptism of fire for Letlamoreng and his charges.
His first game in charge was even made worse by the fact that the previous weekend, their opponents were in a mean mood slaying Extension Gunners 7-0 in the semi-final of Kabelano Charity Cup.
“We were aware of that nobody gave us a chance but I had confidence in my charges. As much as people thought I was under pressure, the truth is that I was not. In the build-up to the game I had full support of the management so I went into the game with a relaxed mind. We knew what to expect from Rollers and I have a feeling that we could have secured a win because we were all over them in the second half. In the end it was not a bad result for me,” said Letlamoreng.
The Police XI tactician said that at the break when his side was side was trailing 2-0, he did not panic because the game was not over.
He said what he needed to do was to motivate his players to fight back. “I’m happy that they (players) responded well after the break. Afterall we gave away the goals we conceded. We plotted some of the weaknesses in the opposition hence and we ensured that we used it to our advantage,” he continued.
This afternoon, the Jungle Kings once again return to Molepolole Sports Complex this time around as visitors to rejuvenated Notwane.
In their corresponding fixture last season, Notwane hammered the cops 3-1 in a match which was played at UB Stadium.
Letlamoreng who was in the stands when Notwane beat Gaborone United 3-2 in an exciting match last Saturday is aware of the threat that today’s opponents pose. “We’re going to take each game as it comes. Notwane have lots of youngsters in their team who have energy. There is no doubt that they are going to run at us in the opening half. If we can manage to contain them before the break, I have no doubt that we can come away with a result,” observed Letlamoreng.
As the Police hierarchy expects him to keep the fire burning following the departure of the more experienced Mogwadi, the soft-spoken mentor hinted that he will continue consulting his predecessor.
“I’ve worked with Sthanda for a very long time. I will seek help from him where possible. He is my mentor as I worked alongside him (as his assistant). He came to congratulate me after the game against Rollers,” Letlamoreng said.