Will Lioli find way back?

Will Lioli find way back?

MASERU – While Matlama and Bantu excitedly go neck-and-neck for the Econet Premier League title, Lioli are in the shadowy doldrums, huffing and puffing and not knowing if they are coming or going.
The Teyateyaneng giants won this season’s first piece of silverware by capturing the Independence Cup last October, but their horrific league performances in the ensuing months has people talking and doubting if ‘Tse Nala’ can find their way back into league title contention anytime soon.
It has been three years since Lioli won the league and it has become apparent that the club’s success-craving fans have lost patience.

This week thepost went out to speak to ‘Tse Nala’ supporters ahead of Saturday’s mega title clash between Matlama and Bantu in the midst of their own team’s struggles.
They want immediate solutions. They can’t stand watching their fiercest rivals battle it out for the title while Lioli scrape just to get into the top four.
As things stand, Lioli are in fifth place with two games to play and some supporters called this season the “the worst time ever” while others were just praying for their “nightmare to be over”.
Finally, caught between a rock and hard place, Lioli fans revealed which of their despised foes – Matlama or Bantu – they would prefer to win the Econet Premier League, no matter how much it would pain them.

Mohlapisi Setei
A lifelong Lioli fan, Setei said the biggest problem at his beloved club is favouritism.
Setei said the favouritism has become very apparent when it comes to team selection and he accused Lioli’s technical team, headed by coach, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, of disliking the club’s newer players, especially those from abroad.
In the offseason Lioli made 10 signings. Amongst the new arrivals were Stephan Heyong from Gabon and Kum Bin Swithbert from Cameroon while Lebohang Sheleng and Diutlwileng Boikanyo joined from South African lower league side Sandton Superstars.

“Our coach (Lehlohonolo Thotanyana) is biased,” Setei said.
“They do not like the players who come from outside the country and, personally, I would like it if the coach left and I also want the president (Lebohang Thotanyana) to resign from the club. If you remember, we won the (pre-season) Alliance Winter Challenge (in August) and things were good back then but the problems started. Even now, the coach went to Pretoria with the national team (in March) and left the team with his assistant (Mosholi Mokhothu) and things were better. We won the games but as soon as he returned we saw some difference,” he said.
Faced with a difficult choice between Matlama and Bantu, Setei said he is backing Bantu to win the Econet Premier League because it is the country’s best-run club. His fear is the jackpot headed to Matlama if they win the league will ruin ‘Tse Putsoa’.
“M500 000 is a lot of money and it should not go to Matlama.”

Eric Maope
Maope said it is a difficult time to be a Lioli fan.
He called this the worst season the club has had where ‘Tse Nala’ have been forced to watch their big rivals go for the title while they are battling just to make it into the top four.
From his perspective there is no unity at the club. Senior players are not helping new players settle in, he added.
“Watching from a distance there is no unity within that team,” Maope said.
“Senior players have the responsibility to help the new players to settle in, especially players from outside the country, but there is no guidance from the senior players. Look at Bantu, when they lose, they lose as a team, when they win, they win as a team,” he added.
“Lioli belongs to the fans but we cannot talk to the players, we can talk to the management (and) we expect the management to fix the problems because they know where the problems are. For us the season is over, the senior players must work with the technical team and help the young players to adapt to the team and the style of play,” he said.

Maope said he would like to see Matlama end their 10-year league title drought. However, he expressed his love for Bantu coach James Madidilane saying he is the coach he looks up to.
“I want Matlama to win the league but I love James Madidilane, if I was a coach I would go to James and ask him for advice. This guy found Bantu in seventh position when he took over (in July 2016) but look at them now. This team believes in him. When he arrived Bantu was like Lioli now. He loves his players and they believe in him, I would be happy for him if he won the league again but I want Matlama to win it,” Maope said.

Mamoqebelo Semethe
As with many Lioli supporters, Semethe said it is difficult to follow the team right now.
She said a lot of fans seem to have given up as evinced by the low turnout in Teyateyaneng when Lioli lost 1-0 to Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) on Sunday.
Semethe, who hasn’t missed a Lioli game all season, said supporters even held a meeting after the game to talk about the issues at their club.
“I don’t even know how to sum our season. We were playing well in the beginning – I watch every game – then we started having problems and at the moment I am angry. I don’t know if it’s the coach, the players or management. It is difficult at the moment and it has affected the supporters because some have given up. There were no supporters against LMPS and the few of us even held a small meeting to talk about this,” Semethe said.
“I think at this moment we have to accept that we are out of the top four. We have to sit down and talk with everybody: the coach, management, players and fix this. If we don’t, we will continue with the same problems next season”

“I think Matlama will win the league,” she added.
“Even if they lose this weekend (to Bantu) they still have the advantage over Bantu. Matlama just need to win their remaining games because Bantu score a lot of goals.”

Mokoto Molise
Molise echoed Setei’s words saying Lioli’s coach and management have to go.
He said rogue senior players identified as trouble-makers also have to leave the club otherwise Lioli will be in the same troubling position next season.
“It is painful,” Molise said.
“We have had problems from last season, we lost lot of players and we were not happy but we thought the problems ended when we won the Alliance Tournament. And things were going well, the season started and we played Bantu we beat them, then we won the Independence Cup and things were alright. But I can tell you there is player power at that club. These senior players, the old players, don’t like the new players especially, the ones that come from outside the country,” he said.

“I know these players. I can tell you one was suspended (Tšoanelo Koetle) and he had not been playing and problems started when he came back. He already had the support of other players and it is clear the coach favours these old players. They have told the players from outside that they will not play at Lioli and this has disturbed the team. It hurts. I want both coaches (head coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana and assistant Mosholi Mokhothu) out. The management has to go and those five senior players that we know are causing trouble have to go. In fact, those five players should go first. We can see the management is not protecting these other players and nothing will change,” he added.

Molise said has decided he will not watch Lioli games anymore. As a fan based in Maseru, he said he spends hard-earned money to buy tickets and travel to Teyateyaneng to watch the team.
He said he knew Lioli would not win Sunday’s Econet Premiership defeat to LMPS just by looking at the starting line-up.
“We used to compete with Bantu for the league title, Bantu had the same problems but look at them now,” Molise said.
“We need to look at ourselves; players don’t want to go to Lioli now, they say they don’t want to be treated like kids. I know this, I talk with players, and they tell us that they don’t want to go there. I support Lioli, I can’t stand it if Bantu win the league for the third time (in a row). I do not know where we will go, they are already unbearable now. I want Matlama to win; I don’t want to hide that. I don’t care if Matlama wins it 10 times, as long as it’s not Bantu.”

Tlalane Phahla

 

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