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Bantu drop points



MASERU – For the second week running defending Vodacom Premier League champions Bantu dropped points as they drew 1-1 with Lesotho Correctional Service to fall further behind leaders Matlama.
The situation is becoming critical for ‘A Matšo Matebele’.

In the space of two weeks the champions have plummeted to eight points behind Matlama, and even though they have a game in hand, Bantu’s title defence is nearing crisis point.
The greatest cause for concern is the Mafeteng side’s extended poor form.
Their winless run now stretches to five games with their last victory coming in June last year, a 1-0 win over CCX.

It is Bantu’s longest stretch without a win since 2016 when they went winless for four games between April and May that year. That run, however, was before the Mafeteng side became the juggernaut they are today; now they are at risk of losing their championship to rivals Matlama.

The situation is made even more precarious because Bantu appear to be in a transition period after the departure of coach Bob Mafoso at the beginning of the year.
South African coach Thabo Tsutsulupa arrived to take over the reins and he has had a tough start playing Linare and LCS in back-to-back games. Bantu have scored just once in the two matches which was Jane Tsotleho’s equaliser on Sunday to rescue a point against LCS and Bantu’s toothless attack is a big headache.

Misfiring Lazola Jokojokwane looks like a shadow of his former self and the striker hasn’t scored a goal for the club since a draw with Likhopo last July and Bantu desperately needs him to find his scoring boots.
That desperation is increased by last month’s departure of skipper Litšepe Marabe who was a livewire for the team and a trusted source of goals.

Marabe’s move to India seems to have hurt the club.
Not only did the Lesotho international lead by scoring goals, he was a great presence in the dressing room and could rally his teammates on the pitch.
Bantu have lost the spark and heart Marabe brought to the team.
The several stoppages and postponements of this 2020/21 campaign, which started way back in September 2020, are worth taking into consideration as well because they have clearly snapped any momentum Bantu enjoyed when they led the league at the start of the season.

It all makes Tsutsulupa’s task that much harder.
The former Liphakoe coach inherited an underperforming team and has been tasked with getting the side to gel in a matter of weeks.
On paper, their next game against Sefotha-fotha looks a fine chance to finally get three points, but it could be tricky.

The bottom dwellers are fighting for their lives and they picked up their first victory of the season this past weekend with a 1-0 win over Lifofane. Sefotha-fotha have been given a new lease of life in their hopes of staying up and this weekend’s match may not be a walk in the park for ‘A Matšo Matebele’, even if they are expected to get their first win under Tsutsulupa.
After the goalless draw with Linare two weekends ago, the new Bantu coach passionately insisted that his charges were still very much in the fight for the title and that the point against Linare was not “too bad.”

Tsutsulupa said even though he had been at the club for a short time, he saw a difference in the players and said they were raring to go. He pleaded with his players to keep calm heads in front of goals and not to rush themselves in the final third.
“I want them to express themselves a lot, especially in front of the goals. I think we missed that,” Tsutsulupa said after Bantu’s draw with Linare.

Many will say a point against LCS is also not too bad, but if Matlama keeps collecting points as they are, Bantu will keep slipping further behind.
After the game against Sefotha-fotha, Bantu’s next three games are against Lijabatho, Kick4Life and Swallows. Although none of the matches will be easy, they are winnable and a chance to their title defence back on track.
With the season starting to finally wind down to its conclusion, the champions need to find form soon if the league crown is to remain in Mafeteng.

This weekend’s fixtures:
February 5 (Saturday 15:00)
Swallows vs. Lioli (LDF)
LCS vs. Liphakoe (LCS 15:00)
Kick4Life vs. LMPS (LCS 12:00)
February 6 (Sunday 15:00)
Manonyane vs. Lijabatho (Nyakosoba)
Matlama vs. LDF (DIFA Ground, Maputsoe)
Likhopo vs. Linare (LCS)
Sefothafotha vs. Bantu (LDF)

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Rabale eyes Champions League glory



Lesotho women’s team captain Boitumelo Rabale has her eyes on winning her second CAF Women’s Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns as the tournament gets underway this weekend.
The third edition of the prestigious women’s club football is scheduled for Ivory Coast from November 5-19, where eight clubs will battle it out to be crowned Queens of the continent.

“Queen”, as the Lesotho star is commonly known, was part of the Sundowns squad that was crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the tournament held in Egypt two years ago, becoming the first player from the Mountain Kingdom to taste Champions League success.
She has become one of the key players in Jerry Tshabalala’s squad having walked away with the Hollywoodbets Player of the Season in the previous campaign and currently leads the goal-scoring charts with 21 goals.

“It was exciting to win the CAF Women’s Champions League with Sundowns two years ago and in the process becoming the first player from Lesotho to do so,” Rabale said.

“I felt very lucky and honoured to make history. It gave me confidence to continue working hard and strive for more success with the club”
Sundowns head to the tournament as regional champions after clinching the COSAFA qualifiers to qualify for the continental showpiece, where they will kickstart their campaign against Tanzania’s JKT Queens on Sunday.

Rabale admitted that memories of losing the last final to AS FAR still haunts them, but they head to Ivory Coast a better team than in the last tournament.

“We learnt the hard way when we lost in the final to AS FAR and we come back a better team having rectified our mistakes.

“It’s our dream to conquer the continent again and I have no doubt that we have what it takes to get our second star in Ivory Coast.

“It will be very good to add the second CAF Champions League medal to my trophy cabinet,” she said.

The 27-year-old has been prolific for Sundowns this campaign having scored nine goals in her last five matches to take her tally for this campaign to 21 goals.
Sundowns are in Group A alongside tournament hosts, Athletico Abidjan, Sporting Casablanca of Morocco, as well as Tanzania’s JKT Queen.

Since joining Sundowns in 2021, Rabale has won the Hollywoodbets Super League twice, the COSAFA Zonal qualifiers twice as well as the CAF Women’s Champions League and is the reigning Hollywoodbets Player of the season.

Tlalane Phahla

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Red Skins fail to raise funds for championship



Lesotho volleyball giants Red Skins have failed to raise funds for the 2023 Zone 6 Senior Indoor Volleyball Club Championship they are set to host in December.

Red Skins will host the competition together with four other local volleyball clubs – Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lesotho Mounted Police Station (LMPS) and Rivers – and the tournament is expected to start on December 7 and end 10 days later.

Without any funds or sponsors coming in, Red Skins will have to foot the bill from their pockets for the tournament which will see teams from 10 countries converge on Maseru.

Among the participating nations, Botswana is expected to bring the biggest contingent with 12 teams, with Zambia following closely behind with nine teams while Zimbabwe is set to be represented by six teams.

Two weeks ago, Red Skins participated in the Elite Cup in Gauteng, South Africa, which was hosted by Aqua Darshan Volleyball.
Red Skins hoped to win the tournament and return home with a hefty jackpot but they only collected M5 000 which was won by the men’s team.

A gala dinner that Red Skins hosted last weekend also failed to generate income due to low attendance and speaking to thepost on Tuesday, the club’s vice-captain, Moleboheng Mofolo, said they will have to push on with what they have to host the tournament.
Mofolo said they no longer have time to come up with other means to raise funds.

“Tournaments will require us to find sponsorships and we do not have time now, we have to focus and train well,” Mofolo said.

“Our coach already told us to camp from this week but rain is our biggest challenge because we cannot continue with the training,” she added.

Mofolo said Red Skins are fortunate that participating teams are going to take care of their accommodation and catering. She said if Red Skins had to provide those services, they would not have been able to manage.

She pleaded with individuals, organisations and companies to help the team, whether it is by offering accommodation, food, or whatever little they may have.

Tlalane Phahla

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Giants avoid each other in Top 4 clash



Women Super League (WSL) giants Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies and Kick4Life Ladies have avoided each other in the WSL Top 4 knockout competition.
The two-day showpiece takes centre stage this weekend at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and it will see last season’s top four finishers in the league – LDF, Kick4Life, Lijabatho and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Ladies – go head-to-head for bragging rights.

The draw for the competition took place last Friday and the semi-finals will see LDF go up against Lijabatho while Kick4Life will take on LMPS Ladies.
Both semi-finals will be played on Saturday with the tournament culminating the following day.

Sunday’s proceedings will kick-off with a third-place playoff game to determine who walks away with the bronze medals before the final later in the day.
All four games over the two days will be streamed on the FIFA+ website and the WSL Top 4 will usher in a new sponsor this year.

In the past, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) fully bankrolled the competition, however, Computer Business Solutions (CBS) has come on board with a sponsorship for the first time.

The competition’s prize monies have not been revealed because they are still being finalised, but, speaking at last Friday’s draw, LEFA’s associations secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, said the relationship with CBS is one that sport should engage in.
Mohapi added his hopes that the relationship will be a long-term one.

“While others are busy at their thing, we should really grow ours so that when their distraction finally ends, they find us as united as we can be as the football community,” Mohapi said.
“(We should be) united by the efforts and inputs that emanate from the business community, especially when it is a truly Lesotho business entity because other (foreign entities) are here to take money,” he said.

Addressing CBS as the tournament’s sponsor, Mohapi said: “We are thankful as LEFA for your initiative; (we) hope you will be in this marriage quite long. We know we are just testing the waters but we have a lot that can entice you to stay longer, not only my command but the instruments that we have.”

Mohapi said LEFA’s dream is that in two years’ time all league matches will be streaming on the FIFA+ platform which was launched last April by football’s world governing body to increase exposure of men and women’s football around the globe.

Currently, only three grounds in the country have the structures for broadcasting; Bambatha as well as the grounds at LDF and Lesotho Correctional Service grounds, and all are in Maseru.
LEFA plans to add more grounds to the list with the DIFA facilities in Maputsoe and Mohale’s Hoek set to be the first to follow suit.

“All our women’s competitions, cup competitions and (Vodacom) Premier League matches that will be played in those stadia that have our infrastructure – we will be able to stream those games internationally,” Mohapi said.

“We have extended our footprint,” he added.

“We are now doing LDF – we have already put up the structure – then we are moving to Maputsoe and, hopefully, Mohale’s Hoek. It is our desire that in two years’ time we will hopefully cover all the matches and put them on the FIFA+ streaming platform.”

WSL Top 4 fixtures:
Saturday (Bambatha)
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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