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Sonopo finds his mojo



MASERU – After his contract was not renewed by Lioli at the end of last season, former Lesotho international Montoeli Sonopo found himself in limbo without a club and he decided it was best to stay at home and do nothing.

At some point Sonopo even contemplated ending his football career but eventually he had second thoughts and picked himself up to go to train with A-Division side Lilemela before he ended up joining Machokha who are making their Vodacom Premier League debut this season.

Joining Machokha was, of course, a big step down compared to playing for a giant such as Lioli that boasts a massive fan base and an equally impressive trophy collection.

However, Sonopo felt invigorated by the prospect of helping the new boys in their quest to survive and remain in the big time, and speaking with thepost on Monday from Maseru Club where Machokha train, the former Lioli wizard revealed that he is enjoying some of his best form of recent years.

Sonopo also said leaving ‘Tse Nala’ was not his decision and, instead, Lioli ghosted him when it came time to renew his contract which forced him to leave.

Staying at home with nothing to do can be stressful and even more so when looking through social media and seeing people who were apparently happy Lioli let him go.

Social media is a cesspit of sad trolls and looking through it was perhaps a mistake on Sonopo’s part.

However, even in the trolls there were still many fans that did not understand why Lioli released him. Sonopo, after all, enjoyed a wonderful career with Lioli whom he joined in 2010 after starring for Leribe side Nyenye Rovers who were in the A-Division at the time.

Sonopo starred in three league-winning teams for Lioli and played at the highest levels for Lesotho in the junior and senior ranks.

Indeed, as a 17-year-old winger back in 2011, Sonopo was spotted by scouts of Spanish giants Atletico Madrid during Lesotho’s Under-20 African Youth Championship campaign and he was invited to Spain.

Although the move fell through, Sonopo continued to be a fan favourite over the next decade with his fiery dribbling skills.

It was that fire which Sonopo realised still burned strong within him as he sat at home and he said he was not ready to hang up his boots just yet. He said he still feels strong and that he can contribute in the top-flight.

His goal against Matlama last week certainly showed Sonopo is not done yet and it is not only his talent that brings value – his experience and leadership could be exactly what Machokha needs to stave off relegation.

“Even when I arrived here, (Machokha) were thinking that maybe I was expelled (by Lioli), that maybe it was a disciplinary thing and maybe it would have been the same challenge at other teams,” Sonopo said.

“I thought since they have just been promoted, they would be happy to have me on board. I feel with my experience I can help them. I don’t have pressure, we know the more we win the more we put ourselves in a good position,” he added.

Sonopo admitted he feels some weight of responsibility on his shoulders as a senior player, but it is a challenge he relishes. Machokha coach Katiso Mojakhomo has trusted him not to just lead the team but to also help the team’s young players that are coming from the First Division.

Sonopo said he feels comfortable, free and trusted at Machokha.

“I think it’s my discipline, I don’t know but people rate me highly and there are many people I found in football. Another thing is that I played football at a young age and people knew me when I was young. Maybe that’s what makes people think I am too old to retire, but I feel good,” Sonopo said.

“I still feel strong, I see this as a chance to still show up because it is a small team that has trusted in me, I do everything freely.”

The only downside to working with young players is that they may think they know better or are better than what they actually are. The Vodacom Premier League and the A Division are levels different and what worked in the second tier, will not work in the elite league.

As of Tuesday, Machokha were fourth on the log with six points from three games and their only defeat so far came against the defending champions, Matlama.

Sonopo believes if they can carry on the way they have started, Machokha have a good chance at staying up. He said it is important to collect points now rather than wait for the second round.

“Our energy was high in the games we have played and I think that is one of the things that’s helping us – we are starting well and scoring quickly,” Sonopo said.

“Against Matlama we scored first and after I scored, I felt like maybe that’s where we hurt ourselves, they will come with pace but we managed them and lost because of small mistakes. If we keep working like that, we are going to surprise a lot of people.”

Tlalane Phahla

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Dicing with death



MASERU – spinning is a motorsport that originates in South Africa.


The pastime started in the 1980s in the country’s townships and was used mainly by gangsters as a way to show-off their stolen cars.


In the subsequent years, the sport has grown in popularity in South Africa’s neighbouring country and it has made its way to Lesotho.


Although spinning competitions are not held regularly in Lesotho, they always come with a huge fanfare and hundreds of supporters normally flock to its venues to watch drivers spinning, drifting and doing stunts.


It is a loud and mostly dangerous sport that has been labelled as the world’s most reckless sport.


It’s not just any car that is used in spinning, there are special cars that favourties for entertaining crowds.


The BMW 3-series famously known as Gusheshe owing to the brusque sound its engine makes are designed for the spin. Spinning enthusiasts say that BMW 3-series cars can be manipulated and their engines maintained easily.


Lately other people have started to opt for the V8 Toyota which they sport with BMW wheels.


In Lesotho, the shows are held at various places, including the Masianokeng filling station in Maseru. In 2021, Seisa Mohapi left the crowd yearning for more thrills, stunts and spins at Makoanyane Barracks and he emerged as a local favourite.


He has since gone on to make a career out of car spinning and because of the lack of competitions in Lesotho, Mohapi has to travel outside very often to compete.


Today, Mohapi, who is one the most famous spinners in Lesotho, is preparing for the Battle of the Nations competition to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 29.


He is not a newbie to the competition. Last year he was the only Mosotho competing against drivers from the host country, Eswatini and Botswana.


One fascinating fact about Mohapi is that he was not into spinning cars until a friend urged him to join the sport because of his fast driving. Mohapi insists, however, that when he is driving on the road he is not as fast as he is on the track.


He may now be a well-recognised spinner, but it was a difficult road. Getting invitations to South African competitions was mission impossible in the beginning because the sport was not recognised in Lesotho.


The best Mohapi managed was competitions in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu, before he eventually started getting invites to big events.


In 2018, he received his first invitation to attend big spinning events in Villiersdorp, Western Cape, and now the rest is history. He has travelled to several countries including Eswatini and Botswana.


Mohapi remembers: “(My friend) gave me an idea that you already have speed, if you can spin, you can do it well. From there I started spinning on the streets until we started taking it seriously, (we are) hosting events and joining spinning groups.”


When Mohapi is not throttling cars on weekends, during the week he has an office job at the Ministry of Social Development. He says his routine is between his job and spinning.


It is a costly passion.


Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports in the world because it requires fully operational engines and such are costly. Mohapi has no sponsor, he bears all the costs when it comes to his car. Luckily for Mohapi, he can repair cars which means the costs of fixing have not weighed as heavily on him as they otherwise would have.


“Even though spinning is a very expensive sport, I am still fully self-sponsored and it does not cost much on my pocket because I know how to repair cars. So, this is different to someone who waits on engineers when their cars crash,” Mohapi says.


“Because these cars are being used heavily, they kill engines a lot. The cheapest engines range from M3 000 to M4 000 so if you are buying them regularly it becomes expensive. The (engine) I am using is about M18 000 to M20 000 – I am hoping spinning will be recognised as a growing sport,” he continues.


In spinning contests, it is the host’s responsibility to provide participants with tyres, while the participants should make sure that their rims are fit for the performance. Many drivers have earned themselves a reputation with drifting, but that is not the case with Mohapi.


He enjoys spinning and doing stunts most and that has become his trademark.


“For the spin to be performed best, it requires skills,” Mohapi says.


“Some can draw the interest of the audience and some just drift and confuse the audience. When the audience cannot capture what you are doing, they keep themselves busy by buying refreshments,” he adds.


There is a difference between spinning and drifting. Spinning which is more popular is when drivers lock their cars into a spin and screech tyres and make clouds of smoke. They then climb out of the car to perform stunts while spinning.


Meanwhile, the internet defines drifting as a driving technique where the driver intentionally over-steers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.


The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. For example, if the car is turning left, the wheels are pointed right or vice versa.


Mohapi says spinning is all about entertainment, no one can be considered a winner, the only way to know if you did well is by the crowd’s reaction to your performance. South Africa is now preparing to host bigger spinning events in which there will be prize money given to participants who impress, and he says he is looking forward to it.


“All I can say is Basotho should support spin because their kids love it,” Mohapi enthuses.


“Their kids must know there is someone in Lesotho who spins and his name is Seisa. At these events there are really a lot of kids, it brings happiness to them.”

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bereng raring to go



MASERU – Likuena star midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng says it’s good for Likuena to go in the match against star-studded Zambia as underdogs despite winning the last encounter between the two countries.


The two southern African countries will face-off in back-to-back matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium on March 23 and 26 respectively.


Motebang Sera was the hero in the last match at the COSAFA Cup beating Kennedy Mweene twice to become Likuena’s all time leading goal-scorer in the regional tournament with six goals.


Bereng, who now plays his football for Eswatini giants, Mbabane Highlanders, makes a return to the Likuena squad since last year’s goalless draw against Ivory Coast, where he was an unused substitute.


“Look, it will be a totally different ball game to the one when we last played at the COSAFA Cup and they also know that it’s not going to be a walk in the park for them,” the midfielder said.


“We just have to approach the game with the same mindset we had against them two years ago in Port Elizabeth, which was self-belief and playing to our strength.”


Bereng, who had a long career playing in South Africa for the likes of Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Black Leopards, admitted that Zambia are favourite on paper going into the two matches, but is adamant they can cause an upset like they did in holding star-studded Ivory Coast to a goalless draw.


“Of course, on paper they are favourites because they have a lot of players playing abroad such as Patson Daka of Leicester City, but like I said, self-belief is very important at this level of football,” Bereng said.


“I think for me it’s very good to be labelled underdogs, it takes the pressure away from us and gives us room to surprise them.


“They are going to be to tough games, but we have been there before and we know what we have to do to improve our position if we are to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.


Likuena will host Eswatini in a training match this Thursday as both countries fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 2023 Afcon matches.


Mikia Kalati

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Free show for football fans



MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has opened its gates to Basotho who want to watch the national team Likuena today. Lesotho hosts Eswatini this afternoon at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in their last friendly match before they fly to Zambia.

This training match is part of Likuena’s preparation for the back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Zambia in two weeks’ time.

Three weeks ago, Lesotho coach Veselin Jelusic and his charges travelled to Malawi for a friendly match which ended with a 1-1. At the time the Serbian coach said he wished for more games and today’s match will surely come in handy as it will help him to fine-tune mistakes Likuena made against Malawi.

The first leg match of the AFCON qualifier against Zambia will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on March 23, with the return leg set for Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on March 26th. Lesotho needs to win at least one of the two games to stand any chance of qualifying.

After two AFCON qualifying games, Likuena are bottom of Group H which also includes Comoros and Ivory Coast.

Like Likuena, Eswatini is also preparing to take on Cape Verde in their AFCON qualifying campaigns on March 24 and 28 respectively.

LEFA has invited Basotho to come and watch their team free of charge as this could be their last chance to watch Likuena on their home soil until Setsoto Stadium is upgraded to meet international standards.

Because of the unavailability of the national stadium Likuena have been forced to play their home matches in South Africa.

Likuena lost 2-0 away to Comoros in their opener but played to a spirited 0-0 draw with giants Ivory Coast at ‘home’. Both games were played last June.

Two of Likuena’s foreign based players have already joined up with the team. Lead striker Motebang Sera, who is still recovering from a minor injury that side-lined him for his South African premiership club Royal AM, is with the team. He missed his team’s 5-1 clobbering by Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Tšoarelo Bereng, who is also based across the border, is another one that is now in camp with Likuena.

Richards Bay striker Katleho Makateng is yet to link up with the team, he is expected to be part of the Richards Bay squad that will take on TS Galaxy in the DSTV Premiership in Mpumalanga on Sunday. He will be allowed to join Likuena after and is expected to be a key figure against Zambia.

Tlalane Phahla

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