MASERU-Several Econet Premier League clubs are bemused by Matlama’s decision to escalate their case against the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
From the beginning some clubs said they never understood why Matlama were fighting LEFA.
Yes, there were some clubs who afforded ‘Tse Putsoa’ a chance to exercise their right to air their grievances.
However, even those teams now say they are tired and feel they are suffering because of Matlama’s battle with LEFA, which some say is driven by football politics.
One Premier League executive on Monday told thepost they were surprised at first when they heard Matlama was appealing the LEFA National Executive Committee (NEC) decision in May to end the 2019/20 campaign and award the championship to Bantu who were handily leading the league when the season was stopped in March because of COVID-19.
The executive detailed the events that occurred before the NEC’s decision to end the season. He said the decision was first put as a recommendation by the clubs to the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) and the league was tasked with passing the recommendation on to LEFA.
During the first meeting between clubs and the league, no final decision was made. Instead, the clubs gave the PLMC a mandate to go out and research what other countries in the COSAFA region and Africa were doing.
The clubs agreed that the next meeting would be where a final decision would be made.
When the time for the follow-up meeting came, the PLMC brought forward results of their research and explained to the clubs what other countries were doing with Botswana used as an example.
In Botswana, Jwaneng Galaxy FC were declared champions after the Botswana Football Association (BFA) decided to annul the 2019/20 season due to the challenges posed by COVID-19.
The BFA Executive ended the campaign with the league standings remaining as they were when the season was halted in March.
Matlama, through their president Paballo Makakole and another unnamed official, were present at all said meetings and not once during the meetings did they appear to be against the recommendation to follow a similar path to Botswana, the source said.
From what we gather, the suggestion to not relegate teams from the 2019/20 season was made by a Swallows representative. Everyone agreed with the suggestion and Makakole did not object, although thepost cannot verify this claim.
The recommendation to end the season was then taken to LEFA by the PLMC though LEFA was under no obligation to take what the PLMC were recommending as gospel.
The final decision solely lay with the NEC as they were not only making decision for the Econet Premier League, but for every league under LEFA’s auspices. Sources say LEFA already knew what the Women’s Super League and other bodies wanted as well.
“I am shocked (Matlama) are still pursuing this,” the executive told thepost.
“At what point do they stop and accept the decision that has been made? What I don’t understand is Matlama have been represented at all meetings and they have never objected any of the recommendations that were made. I was there, I know I saw Makakole at these meetings and I have not seen him object. So, you can imagine how surprised we were when we heard they are appealing the decision.”
“I think this is politics,” the executive added.
“The way I see it, that (Matlama) committee don’t make decisions for themselves. There are people behind the scenes who are probably pushing this because if they were against this they would have raised their concerns in these meetings,” he continued.
With the PLMC elections coming soon, one club executive said there are Bantu and Matlama factions when it comes to voting.
He said he believes these cases will probably hurt Matlama in the voting.
For one, clubs are still waiting for their 2019/20 season prize monies which are still to be paid because Matlama’s fight against LEFA has not been concluded. As things stand, clubs will be paid according to where they finished in the 2019/20 league campaign. However, if Matlama get their way, no prize money would be handed out because the season would be considered null and void.
Bantu have already announced they have nominated their secretary general, Advocate Tefo Rabolinyane, for elections while it remains to be seen who Matlama will nominate.
The deadline for nominations is Friday and other teams have already submitted their nominees.
As for Bantu, they say they have been greatly affected by Matlama’s cases because they have already started preparing for next year’s CAF Champions League campaign.
Bantu say if they are not registered for the continental competition in time because of Matlama’s gripes that means they would have wasted time and valuable money recruiting players with the Champions League in mind.
The deadline for LEFA to submit who will represent Lesotho in Africa is on Tuesday.
Bantu said they have been forced to play the waiting game because there is nothing they can do in this situation but wait.
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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