Lioli unfazed

Lioli unfazed

Luciah Phahla

Maseru – Lioli communications and marketing manager Tšeliso Lerata insists the champions’ opening day loss to Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) last Saturday is nothing to worry about.

‘Tse Nala’ were stunned 1-0 by LMPS at Setsoto Stadium in the club’s first loss on the opening day of a league campaign since 2007.

More concerning is the defeat came just days after the club made changes to their technical team which saw title-winning coach Mosholi Mokhothu replaced by Halemakale Mahlaha in an effort to meet the Lesotho Football Association’s (LEFA) requirement that all top-flight coaches this season must possess at least a CAF B-License.

Mokhothu missed LEFA’s coaching licence course last month and doesn’t have the necessary paperwork. As a result, he was redeployed to a technical director of coaching role at Lioli.

Lerata, however, insisted the defeat to LMPS had nothing to do with the coaching changes made late last week.

“The players wanted to win the game but we were just unfortunate things did not go our way,” Lerata said.

“I talked to some players after the match they were still proud, they were in high spirits. I don’t think the changes that have been made to the technical team affected the players because when you go to a match you expect three results, either you win, lose or you draw the match. On Saturday we did everything (right) but luck was not on our side,” he said.

Lerata asserted there was no huge transition from Mokhothu to Mahlaha who has been part of Lioli’s technical set-up for the past seven years.

“Yes, the players are used to him (Mokhothu), however, Mahlaha has been part of the team for a long time and has been working with these players and Mokhothu is still around, still working with the team,” he said.

Despite leading Lioli to the 2015/16 league crown, Mokhothu had been juggling work commitments all year which ultimately caused him to miss LEFA’s coaching course in July.

Nonetheless, Mokhothu’s removal came as a surprise because he had just signed a new two-year deal in June that was to see him remain as Lioli coach until 2018.

Mokhothu has guided ‘Tse Nala’ to three of the five league titles in the club’s history with his wins in 2016, 2015 and 2009 adding to championship victories in 2013 and 1985.

After the defeat to LMPS, Lioli fans voiced concerns the team’s coaching changes have affected the players.

Lerata insisted this is not the case.

“I know supporters have their own opinions and how they see things, but people who know football would agree with me that we were just unlucky (against LMPS) while some, of course, will say other things,” he said.

Lerata added: “One thing that you need to note is that Mahlaha has been here for a long time and has been working with Mokhothu. I am sure that even now they are still working together as a team.”

Lerata said the international break will help ‘Tse Nala’ rectify mistakes made against LMPS and to comeback stronger against Lesotho Defence Force in their next fixture, next Saturday.

He added that the champions are looking at playing a friendly match in South Africa this weekend to stay sharp.

“The coach has already started on working on the mistakes we made and this weekend we might have a friendly game outside the country, but I cannot say more on that as it is yet to be confirmed,” he said.

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