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Bantu turn on the heat




MASERU – The Econet Premier League made its long awaited return from the festive break last weekend and it did not disappoint.
Here are some of the main talking points from the first action of 2020.

Bantu ruthless
Log leaders Bantu were rampant on Sunday as they crushed Kick4Life 5-0 to claim all three points, thanks to a Lazola Jokojokwane hat-trick and a goal each from Neo Mokhachane and Lekhooa Khoete.
‘A Matšo Matebele’ are running away with the league title and, as things stand, the notion they might go unbeaten this season is not farfetched.
Kick4Life were never a match for the leaders who grabbed their first goal just 11 minutes into the game through Khoete.
Katiso Mojakhomo’s charges never recovered and found themselves 2-0 down within 30 minutes.
Bantu turned the heat up to boiling point in the second half as they scored three more times to make it back-to-back games with five or more goals. Last time out Bob Mafoso’s charges destroyed Swallows 6-0.
The Mafeteng giants are simply on fire.
They have scored an eye-watering 16 goals in their last four games and have won all but one of their league matches this season.

Of course, some may still judge this season as a success for ‘Tse Putsoa’ after they bagged the Independence Cup last month under new head coach Charles Manda.
However, when it comes to the league, Matlama need favours from other clubs to slow Bantu and keep the league title in Maseru.

Lioli in disarray
Whatever is going on at Lioli has left their fans baffled and frustrated with the team’s performances.
Nothing seems to have changed from last season when ‘Tse Nala’ finished seventh. Instead, Lioli are a mess on and off the field.
Last Saturday the Teyateyaneng giants lost 2-0 to newly-promoted Lifofane which left a bitter taste for their supporters who took to social media to vent their frustrations.
The loss was Lioli’s second in a row and they have already lost four of their 11 games this season. ‘Tse Nala’ are now eighth with 15 points from 11 matches, and they are closer to relegation than they are to challenging for league honours.

It is a big mess for the five-time champions.
Lioli are still without a head coach since parting ways with Thabile Secker in November.
Off the field, ‘Tse Nala’ are dealing two AWOL players – Tsietsi Motšeare and Teboho Ntlama – who have yet to show up for training since the club resumed training two weeks ago.
Club management has written to both players demanding they show up. It is just the latest embarrassing episode in a disappointing season.

Lifofane impressive again
The Econet Premier League new boys have been a revelation and the story of the season so far.
Not only are Lifofane playing impressive football they have been winning their games and last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Lioli is their biggest victory to date.
Thanks to their fine form, Lifofane have impressively maintained their place in the league top four for close to two months.
Ambitions have also risen. After being expected to struggle to cope with life amongst the big boys, Lifofane now say they are fighting to book a top four place and a coveted spot in the next edition of the Independence Cup.
Lifofane have been worried about some of their players being poached by bigger clubs in this January transfer window, but the underdogs are unscathed so far and they continue to impress in the elite league.
Relegation still unclear
While Swallows are favourites to get the chop it is worth remembering what happened last season when the Mazenod side survived on the final day of the campaign. Anything can happen.
At the moment no team in the bottom half of the table is safe from relegation. Only four points separate Swallows in last place to Liphakoe in 10th.
Things are so tight that one win changes the entire outlook of which two teams will go down to the first division.
This is a fight likely to go until the dying seconds of the season.

Weekend results:
Lifofane 2-0 Lioli
Lijabatho 0-1 LMPS
Likhopo 1-2 Linare
Kick4Life 0-5 Bantu
LCS 0-0 Matlama
Sefotha-fotha 1-1 Swallows
LDF vs. Liphakoe (postponed)

Tlalane Phahla

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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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