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Phafane’s World Cup appointment

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MASERU – Lesotho will be represented by two officials at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Advocate Salemane Phafane, president of the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA), will serve on the Disciplinary Committee for the upcoming World Cup, while assistant referee Souru Phatšoane will officiate matches.

Secretary General Mokhosi Mohapi announced Phafane’s appointment at the association’s 17th Ordinary Congress on Saturday.

Following a recommendation from Africa’s governing body, CAF, Phafane is already a member of FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee.

The appointment was made official during FIFA’s 71st congress, which was held two years ago at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

This appointment underscores Phafane’s strong leadership of the association as it works to rebuild and develop football in the country.

Prior to being appointed two years ago, his astuteness in football leadership was second to none.

He was considered for a position on one of FIFA’s subcommittees because he previously served on FIFA’s legal committee and as vice-president of COSAFA, Southern Africa’s football governing body, for two terms.

Phatšoane’s World Cup assignment concludes an unforgettable year in his career, in which he became the first Mosotho official to officiate in an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final between Senegal and Egypt.

After officiating in the CAF Champions League final and the AFCON final, it was only natural for him to move on to the World Cup.

Phatšoane had previously officiated in the continental showpiece, making his debut in 2019 in Egypt, and has since become a regular in Africa’s top competitions such as the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.

Tlalane Phahla

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LEFA responds to Chief Theko’s attacks

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MASERU-THE Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has reacted angrily and furiously to Thaba-Bosiu Principal Chief Khoabane Theko’s baseless and malicious attack.

At the funeral of the late Seepheephe Matete last weekend, the outspoken Chief is said to have attacked the association’s president, advocate Salemane Phafane, and secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi.

The association issued a statement on Wednesday, expressing their disgust at the chief’s remarks.

The association said it was saddening to hear Chief Theko abuse and misuse the platform he was given at the funeral to mislead and deceive the nation on administrative matters about which he had no knowledge of.

Instead of using the platform to honour the late football legend, Chief Theko saw it as an opportunity to make ill-conceived and misguided accusations against the association’s leadership.

“Firstly, Chief Khoabane claimed that building of stadia in the country is the responsibility of the association. The Chief who knows nothing about football administration would have known, if he had done his homework that football associations do not construct stadiums.” The statement said.

“This is the responsibility of the government and municipalities. The Chief has been part of the Governments of Lesotho, and should have [played] his part to ensure that stadia are built in Lesotho instead of sitting on his laurels and continuing to draw government salaries which he continues to date.” It continued.

LEFA says Chief Theko exposed his naivety when he claimed Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena is the only facility that the association has built. LEFA has to date built three technical centres that are ready and already being used to host Premier League matches.

One centre at Bambatha is nearing full completion, the other two in Mohale’s Hoek and Maputsoe are fully functional. The artificial turf at Setsoto stadium was installed by the assoccition, they are also in the process of building similar centres in Thaba- Tseka, Quthing, Berea and Ha Mabote.

“The leadership of football in the country wishes to refresh Chief Khoabane’s failing memory that it was only in November 2019, when current FIFA president Gianni Infantino and his delegation visited the Mountain Kingdom, as opposed to his misinformed claims that the FIFA president last visited Lesotho during Sepp Blatter’s tenure in office.” It said.

“It does not come as a surprise that Chief Khoabane was openly and publicly denounced by another Chief at the same funeral. Something is self-inflicted as a result of Chief Khoabane’s playing to the gallery which has turned him into a laughing stock.” It continued.

The association urged the Chief to familiarise himself with football matters, and also to refrain hijacking other people’s funerals as a platform for his misinformation as the leadership of football will take him on if he wishes.

Tlalane Phahla

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Moment of silence for Matete, Ntepane

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MASERU – Vodacom Premier League clubs and all the leagues under the auspices of the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) will observe a moment of silence for the late Seephephe Matete and Salang Ntepane.

Some league fixtures last weekend paid their respects to Ntepane before the matches by bowing their heads in silence for a moment.

Ntepane was a referee and he died last week after an illness.

Mochini, as Matete was affectionately known in Lesotho football, died on Sunday after an illness. Condolences have been coming in from all corners as clubs and players have been paying their respects to the former Likuena coach.

Matete was one of the longest serving members of Lesotho’s football fraternity and his death has come as a shock.

Former Likuena coach Thabo Senong, who is now back in his home country, South Africa, also joined the masses in remembering the fallen giant.

LEFA said it remembers Matete and Ntepane for their service and contribution to football.

One of the big Vodacom Premier League matches this weekend will see Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) take on Linare at the LCS Ground.

Linare may still be on honeymoon with their new coach Leslie Notši as they find themselves flying high in third place, however, their record against ‘Masheshena’ is quite concerning.

They have played each other 11 times since 2014 and LCS has the upper-hand winning the fixture seven times. Linare has won twice and two matches have ended in draws.

LCS are hoping to pile more pressure on the log leaders Bantu and keep their title aspirations alive with a win over Linare.

Weekend Fixtures
Saturday
Naughty Boys vs. CCX (TBA)
Galaxy vs. Matlama (DIFA Leribe)
Lifofane vs. Lioli (Butha-Buthe)
Manonyane vs. LDF (Nyakosoba)

Sunday
Liphakoe vs. Lijabatho (LCS Ground 13:00)
LMPS vs. Swallows (LDF Ground)
Bantu vs. Machokha (Bambatha)
LCS vs. Linare (LCS Ground 15:00)

Tlalane Phahla

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Tributes pour in for Matete

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MASERU – The football fraternity is mourning the untimely death of Seephephe ‘Mochini’ Matete, a man regarded by many as one of the greatest players to have played football in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Matete lost his battle against lung cancer on Sunday after he was admitted to a hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently, according to a family spokesman, Nkau Matete.

Matete was speaking to Lesotho Television on Monday.

The 65-year-old made a name for himself playing for Matlama in the 1970s in a career that spanned more than two decades. He also had short spells playing in South Africa in the mines and for Bloemfontein Celtic.

He started playing for his country as a 17-year-old during the qualifiers of the 1974 World Cup. After hanging his boots in 1993, Matete immediately moved into coaching after he was appointed player-coach at his beloved Matlama.

‘Mochini’, as the legendary left footed attacking midfielder was affectionately known, had a love-hate relationship with the country’s most decorated club, but had recently returned to Tse Putsoa as they represented the country in this year’s CAF Champions League.

He also served the government of Lesotho working at the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation where he worked as a sports organiser, but later moved to the Lesotho Football Association where he started as a coach for its junior teams.

He later moved up the ranks from the Under-17 up to the senior team as well as working as the technical director, which is the senior most technical position in a football organisation.

He and Leslie Notsi are the only coaches to have led the Lesotho Under-20 side Makoanyane XI to the then CAF Youth Championship with Matete having been the first to qualify for a continental tournament in 2005.

Matete also reached the final of the COSAFA Under-20 Championship with Makoanyane XI in 2003. He was the second Lesotho coach after the late April ‘Style’ Phumo to be accredited as a CAF and FIFA instructor.

His last coaching job was with LMPS in the previous season of the Vodacom Premier League, where the club finished in sixth position.

For many who saw Matete during his playing days donning the blue and white of Matlama, he was an iconic player in the same mould as football greats like Jomo Sono in South Africa as well as Diego Maradona in Argentina.

Joang Molapo, a former government minister who was a football player himself, was among many high-profile people in the country who took to social media to mourn the football icon.

“I watched him many times for Matlama and the Lesotho national team. He was an awesome talent and one of the best players this country has ever produced,” Molapo said.

“I played against him a few times; he had a left foot for the ages. Skill, strength, and guile. In 1985, LDF had picked him for some international matches together with Ice Ntsonyana and they arranged a practice match under floodlights at the National Stadium against us as Arsenal.”

The former BNP leader went down the memory lane reminiscing about a match in which LDF had picked Matete to play for them ahead of an international match, but before that they played a friendly match against their now defunct Arsenal.

“Their midfield consisted of Buti Buti Sefali, Mochini, and Ice. Buti Buti and Ice played as the pivots at the base of the midfield while Mochini played in the half space. He was awesome that day and gave Likhetho Mokhathi, Letlotlo and me a master class on midfield play,” Molapo recalls.

“He kept turning away from us and playing in Telephone Seutloali on the left overlapping or finding the runs of Katiso Sekamane in the channels. Litšitso Khali scored a brace for us on that day which awakened a lot of people to his awesome talent but ‘Mochini’ was just out of this world,” he said.

Molapo also posted a picture recalling a match where he was acting as the Minister of Sports and Matete gave him the opportunity to address the Likuena players ahead of a World Cup Qualifier match against Kenya.

“The picture was taken in the dressing room ahead of Kenya vs Lesotho in a World Cup qualifier in Nairobi. He asked me to say a few words to the players before the game and introduced me by saying to them ‘ le mo mamele motho enoa o la ka e bapala nthoena (Listen to him because he played football,” added Molapo.

“Together with Tšeliso Khomari, Thulo Leboela and Likhetho Mokhathi – ‘Mochini’ Matete is among the greatest players Lesotho has ever produced,” he said.

Former LeFA technical director, Leslie Notši, knew Matete very well as he played under him as a player at Matlama and had him under his wing when he started his coaching career at both club level and the national team.

“Yes, he brought me to be his assistant coach at the national under-17 team, but before that, I worked with him at Matlama as his player when he was a player coach and won the league championship in the early 90s,” Notši said.

“He had a very long career as a player because when I was at St. James Primary, he was already a star playing for his school as well as Matlama. I think he received his first national team call-up when he was 17-years old.

“That’s how good he was because we used to carry bags of other senior players that we adored, and he was already a star playing for a senior team.”

LeFA’s Coach Education Officer, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, who worked with Matete as sports officers at the Ministry of Sports and later reunited at the football governing body, described Matete as a very bubbly personality that was full of jokes.

“I must say, I knew him from a distance until we worked together at the Ministry of Sports, which in those days was under the ministry of tourism in 1993 I think,” Thotanyana recalls.

“When it comes to football, we were working under the late ‘Style’ Phumo as our mentor, where we worked as sports organisers at the ministry and later worked together for LeFA. Matete was the second person in the country after ntate Phumo to be accredited as a FIFA and CAF Instructor.

“I also worked with him as his assistant coach for the Under-20 team that eventually qualified for the Africa Youth Championship in Benin, 2005. His family and football in general have lost a giant. Many of the coaches we have here in the country were groomed by him. He has done a lot for his country,” he said.

Thotanyana feels there are no bigger achievements than serving your country as a technical director as well as becoming a FIFA and CAF instructor as technical experts and believes Matete lived his dream when he occupied the two positions.

“I think the fact that he served LeFA as the technical director and was a CAF and FIFA Instructor, from the technical point of view, those are the topmost milestones or achievements in football,” Thotanyana said.

“Secondly, he was instrumental and led Lesotho Under-20 to the African Youth Championship being the first person to do so. I think those are too distinct milestones and defining moments in his career,” he said

Mikia Kalati

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