MASERU – Bantu’s chaotic season has gone from bad to worse with Thabo Tsutsulupa’s agent threatening to sue the club if the new ‘A Matšo Matebele’ coach is not paid.
Over the last week, reports have swirled about Tsutsulupa being suspended because of Bantu’s poor performances. The Mafeteng giants have won just one of their last four Vodacom Premier League matches and have slipped to 13 points behind leaders Matlama. And, even though Bantu have two games in hand, their title defence is on life support.
Although signs are pointing to the South African coach being on his way out, a nasty legal battle could arise if the club terminates his contract and does not pay him because his agent is threatening to sue, sources revealed.
The mess Bantu find themselves in is of their own doing.
When Bob Mafoso left the club at the start of the year, the club could have searched for qualified local coaches who could have stepped in for six months but, instead, Bantu’s management went across the border and brought in a man who was sacked by Liphakoe just a year ago.
Tsutsulupa could not coach a team in the bottom half of the table but someone thought it was a good idea to hand him the keys to one of the biggest clubs in the country and the defending champions of the Vodacom Premier League.
Admittedly, Bantu enjoyed success in the past with South African coach James Madidilane.
Madidilane arrived in 2016 and brought joy to Mafeteng in his three years in charge, winning two league titles in what was the most successful period in the club’s history.
When the South African mentor left in 2019, his assistant Mafoso was the most logical appointment because he worked with Madidilane during Bantu’s successful run.
The change worked when they won the league in 2020 but when it was time to replace Mafoso, Bantu abandoned a working formula and went to get a shiny toy.
However, all that glitters is gold.
Yes, Bantu were not in top form when Mafoso left but they were still very much in the title race. It took Tsutsulupa just four games to take them out of the race.
Today, the champions are 13 points behind log leaders Matlama. ‘Tse Putsoa’ are showing impressive consistency and it is difficult to imagine which team is going to stop them.
Matlama also had to change their coach mid-season but they trusted one of their own to lead the team. Mothobi Molebatsi has led ‘Tse Putsoa’ from second place to the top and now they are running away with the title.
With games coming thick and fast, at some point those games Bantu have in hand will be useless because even if they were to win them, the gap to Matlama would still be seven points. Bantu would still be at the mercy of other teams.
In their four games under Tsutsulupa, Bantu have played against Linare, Sefotha-fotha, Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and Likhopo. The champions have won one and drawn three, collecting six points from a possible 12.
It is not good enough.
Terms ‘plumber’ and ‘fishermen’ are synonymous with South African football and they are used mostly to describe, belittle and insult foreign coaches.
It was first started by Gavin Hunt in 2019 when he was asked to comment on South Africa’s coaching scene
“I mean, are you crazy? What are you doing, having a laugh or what? Then there’s plumbers, electricians and fishermen. Whatever. We’ve got to believe in our own (coaches),” Hunt said at the time.
Since then, those words have become a phenomenon amongst South African fans and media who think they need to start believing more in their own coaches. Perhaps it is time we also believed more in our own products, after all, a lot of South African coaches did their football licences here in Lesotho, and some got their first big coaching jobs here as well.
I am not calling Tsutsulupa a plumber, but is he better than Thabile Secker? No.
He has not won anything in his life, so what qualified him for such a big job that he has now failed dismally to do? Something tells me Bantu did not trust him to do this job, which is why they gave him a six-months contract to see how he fares. Their swift reaction to remove him is an attempt to arrest the situation in the league that is now out of their control.
You should hear Tsutsulupa speak. He talks a good game but sets his team up like an amateur. Not only have goals dried up for him, suddenly a team that was the hardest to break down is shipping goals. Tsutsulupa’s problem was tinkering with the team too much; in his own words “there must be a difference now that the coaches are not the same”.
Against Linare, their supporters and coach at the time, Tebogo Moloi, left the stadium feeling hard done by because they did not beat Bantu. LCS were gutted with their draw while Likhopo felt they deserved their point against the champions.
Bantu have become a team that makes others feel good about themselves.
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.
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.
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:
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies
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