Lioli coach rules himself out

Lioli coach rules himself out

MASERU – Stand-in Lioli coach Motebang Makhetha has ruled himself out of the running for the club’s top job despite the fine work he has done in his two months in charge.
Makhetha took over from Malemakale Mahlaha in early October just after the Teyateyaneng giants’ lifeless Independence Cup display.
At the time, the long-time Lioli assistant inherited a fractured dressing room that was close to open revolt, club insiders say.

Indeed, when he resigned, Mahlaha complained of fan interference and blamed player power for the side’s lacklustre displays.
However, Makhetha, who was an assistant coach during Lioli’s league triumphs in 2013, 2015 and 2016, steadied the ship and ‘Tse Nala’ find themselves two points adrift of Econet Premier League leaders Bantu, with a game in hand.

Nevertheless, with Lioli’s executive set to announce a new fulltime coach by the New Year, Makhetha insists he prefers to remain as an assistant coach.

“Lioli, for me, is my home, whenever am in TY I feel at home. I am happy to help and step in (during) situations like this when the team asks, but I think it is always best to find someone else (to be head coach) and I will support that person,” Makhetha said.

“I can be permanent elsewhere,” he continued. “Lioli is my home. I think the best responsibility is to support the team and always help where I can.”
When Makhetha took over it had become one of the unspoken truths of Mahlaha’s final days in charge – both inside and outside the club – that Lioli’s expensively assembled squad was developing into nothing more than a disparate collection of cliques.

Sources say a number of big personalities were beginning to hold as much influence in the dressing room as the coach which, in turn, was breeding an unhealthy environment and becoming a principal factor in Lioli’s failure to deliver the style of football it has been built to achieve.
Despite their array of Lesotho international stars, Lioli finished last in October’s Independence Cup before the squad immediately left the stadium after their third-place playoff loss to Kick4Life.
With the skies much brighter now in TY, Makhetha credited the club’s fans, staff and players for turning things around. Lioli are unbeaten under Makhetha, winning four of six matches.

And, despite a disappointing 1-1 draw with Sefotha-fotha last weekend, Lioli are still well placed for an assault on a third title in four years.
‘Tse Nala’ are only second in the Econet Premier League because their 2-0 win over Sundawana in September has been nullified after the Butha-Buthe side was booted out of the league last week.

“The response was very fantastic hence the results,” Makhetha said.
“The management stepped in (to help) and I also think the supporters have matured. So, I think the credit will go to the supporters, the management, the players and then the technical team.”

Lioli’s executive committee is yet to make a final decision on who will take the team’s reins going forward but the club’s vice-president, Mthoalo Mthoalo, confirmed the five-time champions will make an appointment immediately after the completion of the first round in the coming weeks.
Mthoalo, though, admitted Lioli’s board is pleased with Makhetha’s work. He said the interim boss would remain in the club’s technical set-up even after the appointment of a new coach.

“We are satisfied, so far, with (Makhetha),” Mthoalo said.
“We see what he is doing but we have not made a decision about his future. We are hoping to make an appointment of a new coach after the first round games. Makhetha was already in the team. He was an assistant coach and was asked to hold on (as head coach) until we make an appointment,” he said.

In the meantime, Lioli are preparing for a crunch clash against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) at the Lioli Stadium in Teyateyaneng on Saturday. LMPS will be no pushovers. They are seventh in the league with 13 points from nine games.
A win would be another significant feather in the cap for Makhetha. More importantly for Lioli, three points would be another step towards regaining their crown as Lesotho’s league kings.

Luciah Phahla

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