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Why Matlama are in trouble



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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Mohlolo rescues point for LDF Ladies



A last-gasp strike by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies striker ‘Maseriti Mohlolo rescued a point for the Women’s Super League (WSL) champions against Malawi’s Ntopwa in the opener of their CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA Qualifiers yesterday.

Mohlolo’s goal keeps LDF Ladies in contention to progress to the next round with two teams from the four-team group set to qualify for the semi-finals.

Although LDF Ladies were not outplayed in the game, they missed many chances and their set-pieces left a lot to be desired.
Maybe that can be attributed to a last minute coaching change that saw Pule Khojane replace Lengana Nkhethoa as head coach of a side that won the WSL unbeaten last season.

Speaking after the game, Khojane said even though he realised early on that the Malawian team were tough physically, he still wanted LDF Ladies to play their normal passing game.
In the end, Khojane was left to lament the number of chances his side created but couldn’t convert.
Khojane said that will be a point of emphasis before LDF Ladies step onto the field again tomorrow against Botswana’s Double Action.
Tomorrow’s tie is probably a must-win with the group’s other team being defending champions Green Buffaloes of Zambia and LDF Ladies will need to convert their chances.

“We play with four at the back but with two attacking full backs, most of the time if a team plays long balls like (Ntopwa) we struggle a lot but we don’t change our game. We want to play; we want to go forward.
“That’s why sometimes we made a lot of mistakes when the ball was played high behind our backs but we still wanted to play our game and win. We were just unfortunate not to score more goals but we were playing (well),” Khojane said.

LDF conceded a late goal in the first half and were perhaps lucky to go into the half time break just a goal down.
Before Ntopwa took the lead they were awarded a penalty for a reckless foul in the box but they missed the chance to open the scoring.
LDF recovered in the second that but could not find a way into the goals.

It looked as if Lesotho’s representatives at the regional showpiece would begin their campaign with a defeat. However, Mohlolo rescued the Lesotho champions when she latched onto a poor back pass from a defender. She stole the ball and levelled matters with less than three minutes to go.
There was no time for the LDF to get a winner and they had to settle for a point in their opening group game.
They will now be looking to improve and sharpen their scoring boots for tomorrow’s showdown against Double Action of Botswana.

LDF Ladies fixtures:
August 30
LDF Ladies 1-1 Ntopwa
Double Action vs. LDF Ladies
Green Buffaloes vs. LDF Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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Makepe quits Likuena duty



Likuena captain Basia Makepe has retired from international football after leading the senior national team to silver at the recent COSAFA Cup tournament held in Durban, South Africa.
This was the first time since 2000 that Likuena had reached the final of the regional tournament where they lost 1-0 to Zambia.

The Leribe born defender will go down as one of the most decorated defenders in the country having represented his country 87 times and winning several accolades in the process.

Makepe’s leadership skills were spotted from a young age, where he was appointed captain of the national U-20 team, Makoanyane XI by Leslie Notši.
He led by example as Makoanyane XI qualified for the CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2011, which in those days was knowns as the African Youth Championship, where the side eliminated countries like Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya to qualify for the tournament.

Makepe won his first Likuena cap in a 2-1 victory over Eswatini during an international friendly match played at Setsoto Stadium in October 2012 and went on to make the squad for the 2013 COSAFA Cup in Zambia.
However, Makepe was an unused substitute at the tournament as Notši went for the tried and tested defenders such as Moitheri Ntobo, Tlali Maile and Thabo Masualle as Likuena reached the semi-finals.

He would later be appointed the Likuena captain as coach Moses Maliehe went for a younger generation at the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia, where Likuena won all their group stage matches but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Shakes Mashaba-coached Bafana Bafana.
Makepe has not only enjoyed success with the national team but won several domestic trophies at Lioli, where he was also handed the captaincy after joining from boyhood club and now defunct Joy FC.

After leaving Lioli, he joined the police outfit, LMPS FC, where he is employed as a police officer and believes he still has a few years left in his tank playing for Simunye, as the police outfit is affectionately known.

“I think I have had a career that you can say was decent and can be accepted as satisfying to the football fraternity,” Makepe said.

“For me I can say it was a good career that has had challenges here and there as well as successes here and there, which started way back with the Under-20 team.

“With Makoanyane XI, we became the second team to qualify for the Africa Youth Championship and fortunately I had the honour of being the captain of that team.”

The 32-year-old, who has come up against the best forwards on the continent from the young Mohamed Salah during the 2011 Under-20 Africa Youth Championship to the likes of Victor Osimhen, Riyad Mahrez, has singled out former Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Pitroipa as the most troublesome opponent he has faced.

“I have come up against the best from this continent from the likes of Salah and others, but I think Pitroipa of Burkina Faso was the most troublesome forward I have come up against,” he said.

“I think the successes with the senior team especially as the captain are many having reached the COSAFA semi-finals a number of times with Likuena and twice going unbeaten in the group stage in Zambia 2013 and Namibia 2016 respectively.

“Being the captain of the team was the cherry on top and getting bronze medal in 2018. I end my chapter with Likuena having played a role in helping the team get to the final for the first time in 23 years,” he said.

Makepe admitted that the 2016 edition of the COSAFA tournament was very special for him as it was the first he captained the side and they won all their group stage matches.

“The COSAFA tournament in Namibia in 2016 stands out for me especially that game against South Africa, which unfortunately we lost on penalties, but it was a good tournament overall,” he said.

“All in all, I think it was a very satisfying career with the national team though you always want more as a player. I’m happy to bow out having helped Likuena re-write history. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.

“I’m very grateful to all who have supported me throughout my career, my teammates, coaches, administrators and the supporters, who were always by our side and of course the Lesotho Football Association for giving me the opportunities to lead the national team,” he said.

Mikia Kalati

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Notši picks squad for Ivory Coast tie



Lesotho interim coach Leslie Notši has named a provisional 27-man squad for the side’s final 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Ivory Coast which is scheduled for September 9.
By virtue of being the hosts of next year’s showpiece, Ivory Coast have already qualified for the tournament while Likuena no longer have a chance of joining them after back-to-back defeats with Zambia in June.

With nothing to play with but pride, Likuena can draw inspiration from their performance when the sides met in their first Group H encounter last June which ended in a goalless draw.
The match was played in Soweto and Lesotho’s memorably dogged display against their much more fancied opponents is something Notši’s charges can look to for inspiration.

Several new faces could feature in that return game in Ivory Coast.
Fresh off last month’s COSAFA Cup final display, Notši has called up some fresh blood to bolster the squad such as Khubetsoana Kamela, Tšeliso Botsane and Teboho Letsema who have each represented Lesotho’s junior teams but are yet to make the leap to the senior side.

Notši’s squad also includes the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) trio of Morena Moloi, Lebesa Lebesa and Victor Ferreira who have been called up to the national team set-up for the first time in their careers.
The most surprising inclusion is perhaps that of Ferreira who spent the majority of last season making cameo appearances from the LDF substitutes’ bench.

Speaking with LEFA’s media team, Notši said the new faces are intended to give him depth going into the 2024 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers which start in September and are reserved only for locally based players.
It means the handful of Likuena players plying their trade outside the country will be ineligible to play. The first round of the 2024 CHAN qualifiers is set to begin from September 22 to 24.

“We all know that AFCON qualification is out of our reach and the bigger picture is to prepare the team for the CHAN qualifiers, which are coming very soon,” Notši said.
“Most of these boys have come through the ranks playing for our junior national team and it’s the association’s investment that needs to be given a chance to grow,” the Lesotho mentor added.

The 27-man Likuena squad will be trimmed down to a manageable size towards the side’s departure to Ivory Coast, but the core of the players that went to the COSAFA Cup in July are expected to retain their places in the team.
Likuena have a busy schedule ahead with the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers also in the pipeline this year. Notši needs to have as strong a team as possible to compete in all the competitions.

Likuena provisional squad:
Sekhoane Moerane, Teboho Ratibisi, Mosoeu Seahlolo.
Rethabile Senkoto, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Mohlomi Makhetha, Rethabile Mokokoane, Rethabile Rasethuntša, Lebesa Lebesa, ‘Mellere Lebetša.
Lisema Lebokollane, Khubetsoana Kamele, Tšeliso Botsane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Thabo Lesaoana, Tumelo Makha, Koenehelo Mothala, Tšepang Sefali, Victor Ferreira, Tshwarelo Bereng, Teboho Letsema, Neo Mokhachance, Tšepo Toloane, Morena Moloi.
Thabiso Mari, Jane Thabantšo, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng.

Tlalane Phahla

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