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Why Matlama are in trouble

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MASERU – There is something wrong with Matlama and I am afraid it is the players and their executive committee.

The players are selfish, they play only when they want to and have absolutely no respect for the fans, let alone the badge they are wearing.

The performance they displayed on Sunday against Bantu was no different to the shabby excuses they put on in previous defeats to Lijabatho and Lesotho Correctional Service and the only players that came out of the shambolic game with their heads held high were Jane Thabantšo, Mohai Motete and goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane.

The rest should hang their heads in shame and if it wasn’t for the latter, the score-line could have been humiliating in the second half and not the 2-1 final score to Bantu.

Ramalefane was called on to save Matlama on several occasions because his backline was sleeping all game. Rethabile Mokokoane was running around like a headless chicken doing absolutely nothing the entire game.

What happened to Phafa Tšosane?

These days his freekicks do not even beat the first man anymore and he cut a frustrated figure throughout the game.

He was there, I just couldn’t tell what he was doing. Tšosane needs to rediscover his mojo quickly.

The less said about Matlama’s two new strikers Lazola Jokojokwane and Thabiso Mari, who have one goal between them in eight games, the better.

Almost all of the dangerous attacks that Matlama launched were instigated by Thabantšo and he worked his socks off and never stopped running trying to make things happen. If those around him matched his desire maybe the result would have been different.

Thabantšo is by far the best player in this team and was key to their league triumph last season. He should not be surrounded by charlatans who drop their heads when things don’t go their way.

Another player Matlama can thank for saving their skin is Bantu striker Tšeliso Botsane who missed five clear cut chances in the first half. Even if the game had been played the whole night and he still wouldn’t have scored.

His coach Moeketsi Mongoya reckoned it is a matter of confidence for Botsane after being out for weeks.

Botsane got behind Matlama’s non-existent defence so many times and when he did, it was either he rushed to take a shot or did not look up to place the ball.

After the game, Mongoya said Bantu could have scored seven or eight goals and he is right. Even now it still doesn’t make sense how it ended 2-1. Lehlohonolo Fothoane was the man of the match, his two goals gave Bantu a victory, but he too could have scored two more.

I have not seen a team be that open at the back and give away so many chances to their biggest rivals and the way they position themselves for set-pieces and attacks is exactly why they are on a four-game winless run.

Former Matlama coach Mothobi Molebatsi, who left the club last week, previously lamented his defenders positioning saying the two last minute goals they conceded against Lijabatho and Lesotho Correctional Services (LCS) were because of poor positioning.

After seeing Matlama on Sunday it is safe to conclude Molebatsi was never the problem.

What irks me even more is that they also lack discipline. I can only hope Lisema Lebokollane at least had the decency to apologise to his teammates for cowardly leaving them on the pitch to fight on their own. His big mouth got him in trouble not once but twice with experienced referee Lebalang Mokete showing him two yellow cards and sending him to the dressing rooms.

Lebokollane is an experienced national team player and he should know better than mouthing off at officials after they make decisions. Of course, his coach Halemakale Mahlaha tried to defend him saying the players are frustrated and angry because they didn’t play well in the last three games. Please, the only time I saw him showing any fight was when his lips were moving.

Mahlaha later admitted that Lebokollane’s sending off affected the team and gave Bantu an upper hand in ball possession.

“It hurt us a lot because Bantu is a possession team and they have played together a long-time, I just got here trying to fix whatever I think is wrong,” Mahlaha said.

“Bantu have gained momentum, us being one player less helped them to have more possession than us. We got chances even after Lisema went out we just didn’t combine well upfront,” he added.

Mahlaha said the technical team need to work with the players mentally because they found them dispirited but said they have changed a lot from the way he saw them last week.

“We just need to take it from here and increase fitness levels a little bit so that we can match these teams, otherwise heads are up,” Mahlaha said.

Rightfully, Matlama players will make a case about their alleged unpaid wages and bonuses and the fact that the club has failed to honour them after winning the league. As it is always the case, whispers started to go around that they haven’t been paid. It is a shame really but not surprising.

There were execs that were scheming behind Molebatsi’s back demanding answers why ‘so and so’ was not playing. Some were entertaining the players’ complaints about their limited game-time instead of backing their coach, and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Their slithering behaviour emboldened their vile fan base and some Matlama fans were planning to attack Molebatsi against Bantu if he was in charge.

But unbeknownst to them, a drunkard would not have patience to wait one more week and attacked the coach in Morija two Saturdays ago. Molebatsi is gone and Matlama’s season is going up in flames.

Matlama must paint themselves and wear outfits because they are a circus. Good thing we have front row tickets.

Tlalane Phahla

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LDF Ladies registers thumping victory

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MASERU-The Women Super League (WSL) produced a whopping 30 goals from Sunday’s games with defending champions Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies recording the biggest victory with a 13-0 thumping of Rovers Ladies.

In just four games this season, the champions have scored 25 goals and are the league’s top scorers so far while Kick4Life follow closely behind with 21 goals in five games.
LDF and Kick4Life face-off this weekend in what promises to be a titanic battle between the rivals.

Kick4Life lead the Women’s Super League with 15 points but have played a game more than LDF and the champions have an opportunity to move level on points, with a game in hand, should they win.
Interestingly, both sides are yet to lose this season and because they are the biggest teams in the league, it is always a big occasion when they go head-to-head.

Kick4Life go into the game with confidence after beating Thaba-Tseka Ladies 4-1 at Mejametalana Airwing on Sunday but know they will have to be at their best to get the better of LDF.
Another side with outside hopes of a title challenge is FC Stoko who squeaked to a 3-2 win over Limkokwing University on Sunday.

Their head coach, Paul Setoko, said his team has been struggling to prepare properly for games because of the different commitments of his players. He said some are busy with school, others have their day-to-day jobs while some live far from their training base.

For the last few weeks, the players have trained at least once before going into the games, however, Setoko said last week they were not able to meet during the week and were only able to train on Saturday to prepare for the game against Limkokwing the following day.

Although they were able to come out with three points, Setoko said the effects of a lack of training were visible in the second half where they struggled to contain their opponents who came close to equalising.
“Our performances haven’t been really great because we have not been able to train well. In a week we train maybe once. We have been winning because we have good players, but it also depends on who you are playing.” he said.

“If you look at the score-line against Limkokwing University, they were tired in the second half. As a coach I am not happy, I think we need time. If we can get all our players training at least three times a week that would be better,” he said.

FC Stoko are third on the log. The only defeat they have suffered this season was against Kick4Life and they have not dropped points in any other games.
They will take on Thaba-Tseka Ladies this weekend and Setoko said they had a chance to watch their opponents when they played against Kick4Life on Sunday. He said Stoko have ideas on how they will approach the game.
“I think (Thaba-Tseka Ladies) are a good team with good players, they play with a lot of energy,” Setoko said.

“I think we are going to need to train harder because if we don’t I think we will have a problem.”
Setoko also raised concern over possible fatigue and burnout of his star player Bohlokoa Mothala.

Mothala trains with the national team from Monday to Wednesday and Setoko said he wishes players could be given a day’s rest, especially if they have played a league match a day before.
He said coaches have different methods they use in training and it is possible for Mothala may be at risk of fatigue or an injury as result of not being able to rest.

Last weekend’s WSL results:
FC Stoko 3-2 Limkokwing University
Thaba-Tseka Ladies 1-4 Kick4Life
LDF Ladies 13-0 Rovers Ladies
Basetsana 2-0 Berea Ladies
Sky Batallion 1-4 Bantu Ladies

Weekend fixture:
February 5 (Times and venues to be confirmed)
Limkokwing University vs. Sky Battalion
Berea Ladies vs. Bantu Ladies
Thaba-Tseka Ladies vs. FC Stoko
Rovers Ladies vs. Basetsana
LDF Ladies vs. Kick4Life

Tlalane Phahla

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LEFA to launch talent development scheme

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MASERU– The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) will be in Mohale’s Hoek this weekend to launch the latest leg of the FIFA Talent Development Scheme (TDS). The programme has already been launched in different regions across the country with the newest being in Maseru last week.

The programme was first launched in the north with teams from Mokhotlong, Butha-Buthe, Leribe and Berea participating.
The south region is made up of Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek. LEFA’s Youth Development Officer, Mohaila Letseka, said the programme will run for the whole year and it is meant for Under-15 boys but the intention is to include girls in the future.

“The first launch was really good, the players were competitive, even-though it is really about development but they gave us good games. I think Mokhotlong was very good,” Letseka said.
“We are in Mohale’s Hoek this weekend, the good thing is that we have scouts at these games, the (national) Under-17 coach Motolo Makepe has been watching,” he added.

Letseka said the programme will be used to select a national Under-17 team.
“This programme was launched by FIFA and some countries launched theirs immediately but for us we decided to start with Under-15 boys, they will be turning 16 next year and we are looking at taking them to the COSAFA Championship. We will be cutting down picking the best players from the zones there is a lot of talent,” he explained.

TDS was launched in 2022 by FIFA with the aim of offering assistance to member associations to help them achieve their full potential and continue the measures taken to reduce the disparity in the level of football between different regions of the world.

When the TDS project was launched, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, Arsène Wenger, hailed the programme and said it was for global benefit and it would improve the equality of opportunity for players across all six confederations.

Wenger said this was a significant step towards giving every talent a chance, no matter where or when they are born.

Whilst competitions are drivers of development, FIFA says TDS strengthens a solid framework for the pathways that take talent from the point at which they enter the game, all the way through to transition opportunities into senior football.

Tlalane Phahla

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Makha’s unfinished business in SA

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MASERU-Likuena midfielder Tumelo Makha says he still has unfinished business in South Africa after parting ways with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) to pen a short-term contract with Lioli in the Vodacom Premier League.

Makha joined the Limpopo outfit in September 2021 and made an immediate impact helping the club reach the semi-finals of the Nedbank Cup.
He scored the winner in a five-goal thriller as TTM eliminated DSTV Premiership side, Supersport United, in the quarterfinal with a 3-2 victory, but their impressive run in the competition was ended in the semi-final by Marumo Gallants.

However, since the start of the 2022/2023 season, Marumo Gallants have been hogging the headlines for the wrong reasons with several South African publications reporting that the club has not paid its players since November last year.

The reports also indicate that the club has not been training since November and were recently hammered 7-1 in the Nedbank Cup by fellow Motsepe Foundation Championship club, All Stars.
Makha admitted that he is among a group of players that left the club over outstanding salaries while others also had no place to stay as reported by South African publications.

“Yes, I left the club because myself and other players were owed salaries that goes as far as last year and I felt it would be better to get a short-term contract here at home to stay in good shape,” Makha said.
“I learnt a lot during my time with the club and will always be grateful to TTM for giving me the opportunity to play in South Africa.”

The 23-year-old midfielder, who has also been impressive for the national team since winning his first cap in 2021, stated that he already has offers from other South African teams.
“My agent had offers from other teams, but they asked to clear their foreign quota for next season to make room for my arrival and I’m confident of returning to South Africa in the new season,” Makha said.

“It’s very important for me to remain focused because I know what football can do to change my life for the better.
“I have already experienced that during my time with TTM and I know about the financial benefits that are there for the players in professional leagues, where you are able to take care of yourself as well as your loved ones,” he said.

Makha is adamant that re-joining Lioli can benefit both him and the club as Tse Nala have been going through a rough patch in the Vodacom Premier League.
The Teya-teyaneng based outfit are lying ninth in the Vodacom Premier League table with 28 points after 18 games and Makha wants to see the club finish the campaign at least among the top four teams.

“Re-joining Lioli will help me get my groove back because I have not played competitive football for some time due to the situation at my former club and I believe I can play a part to help Lioli finish the season at least among the top four teams,” he said.

Mikia Kalati

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