Vultures feast on Likatola

Vultures feast on Likatola

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) public relations officer Letsielo Mabitle insists the national team’s 41-5 drubbing at the hands of Botswana last Saturday had nothing to do with the absence of Giants Rugby players.

Likatola were outplayed by the visiting Vultures at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in a game that showed a wide gulf in class between the sides.

However, Mabitle vehemently denied the display showed Likatola need Giants players saying Lesotho has lost to Botswana in the past with Giants players present.

Giants withdrew from the Lesotho Rugby League in February citing maladministration and the club was subsequently banned for two years by the FLR.

The feud remains on-going between the federation and Giants who competed in South Africa’s Eastern Free State Griffons League in 2014 and 2015, and are Lesotho’s most successful rugby club.

Last Saturday’s match was Likatola’s first international outing without the experienced Giants core which played a key role in the team’s 13-10 victory over Swaziland last June.

Nonetheless, Mabitle rejected that the absence of Giants players was decisive against Botswana.

“We are talking about the national team and I do not see where Giants players come in. I don’t think the loss reflects their absence because we lost to Botswana before and they were present,” he told thepost yesterday.

Instead Mabitle blamed Lesotho’s humbling defeat on overconfidence.

“I think we were overconfident and made a lot of mistakes that cost us the game. I think we had about four penalties and the people that were chosen to take them missed all of them,” he said.

Mabitle also defended Likatola’s showing by pointing out that Botswana is ranked higher. Botswana is one of 16 top tier nations in Rugby Africa’s structure and is rated 11th on the continent. Lesotho is in the second division and is yet to receive a ranking.

The tie against Botswana also formed part of the team’s preparations for the Africa Cup Division 2 tournament in Kigali, Rwanda, later this month.

Lesotho will compete against hosts Rwanda as well as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the title.

Mabitle said it would be unfair to judge Likatola’s readiness for the Africa Cup by their performance against Botswana.

“In terms of performance Botswana was really above us and we must remember they do not rank in the same division with us. I personally think the team did well on Saturday and it’s difficult to say whether the team is not ready for Rwanda by judging their performance in this game against a team that is above us,” he stressed.

Mabitle said the national team is back in training getting ready for its upcoming assignment in Rwanda. He revealed that coach Roy Zhou will likely stick with the same squad that faced Botswana.

“We are back at training. We are preparing for Rwanda and I think the team will leave on the 16th or 17th (May) and will be back on the 26th,” Mabitle concluded.

 

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