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Cycling team puts up solid performance



Maseru – Lesotho’s cycling team continued its steady progress on the international stage with a solid performance at last week’s UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in Cairns, Australia. The five-day championships ended on Sunday and Lesotho was represented by a three-member team of Tumelo Makae, Ramohanoe Ramohanoe and 2016 Olympian, Phetetso Monese.

Monese, who is ranked 97th in the world and is the highest-rated black African in the International Cycling Union (UCI) rankings, was Lesotho’s best performer finishing 64th out of 75 riders in the men’s elite race.
Only three African riders took part in the star-studded event and Monese finished ahead of South Africa’s Sithembiso Masango and William Mokgopo.
In the end, the race was won by Switzerland’s Nino Schurter ahead of Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic and another Swiss, Thomas Litscher, but Lesotho team manager Mark West said he is proud of the side’s performance in testing conditions.

He said the course in Cairns was one of the most difficult in the world with the circuit four kilometres in length and races lasting five to seven laps depending on the category. “I am very proud of everyone and I am happy with the performance,” West said.
“This was the world championships and the standard of the course and the competition we were against was higher than we anticipated. Our guys have been competing on the African level and we are amongst the top teams in Africa.”

“Monese was pushed off the track at the start of the loop but he managed to pick up and increase his pace to finish 64th,” he added. “I am proud that Monese was the top African finisher in the elite men category beating two South African riders.”
All three members of Lesotho’s squad in Cairns are part of the ‘ACE-The Sufferfest’ cycling team and the championships represented invaluable experience for the younger riders Ramohanoe and Makae.

“Ramohanoe was in the junior men’s race, unfortunately he crashed out when he was around 60th place,” West said.
“His target was to beat a young guy from Namibia (Marcel Holz who finished 63rd) and at the time (Ramohanoe) crashed out he was in front of (Holz). Unfortunately, he crashed out and hurt his shoulder.”
“In the men’s Under-23 race Makae finished in 64th place among 73 riders but he was still struggling with an injury he picked during training,” he added.
West said Lesotho went to the MTB World Championships with several objectives in mind – the main one being to gain experience before qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics begins next year.
He said the exposure gained in Australia would be vital down the road especially with the 2018 Commonwealth Games set to be held in nearby Gold Coast.
Lesotho’s increasing standing on the mountain bike circuit over the past two years is also an opportunity for the sport and its riders to reach new frontiers.
West said in order for Lesotho to make the next leap and consistently qualify for world-class competitions the team has to enter world-class events, which is why they took a gamble on going to Australia. “We also wanted to go to Cairns because it is not too far from the Gold Coast (where the Commonwealth Games will be held). They are in the same region and we wanted to experience the area and meet the people. We made a lot of friends.

“We got to be interviewed on local radio stations, local newspapers and many people came to support us and many will assist us further with preparing for the Commonwealth Games,” West said.

“Another objective was to qualify for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games though unfortunately that one didn’t work out for us. Finally, we wanted to maintain and improve our world ranking. “The new rankings came out (on Tuesday) morning and we moved (up) one place to 26th (in the world). I think there is going to be a new qualification system for the Tokyo Olympics and we are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Lesotho’s trip to Australia was supported by Alliance Insurance who forked out M80 000 to help the team. The Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) also pitched in with M41 000.

Alliance public relations officer Limakatso Mokobocho declared the company “very proud” of Team Lesotho.
“We will continue to support them going forward,” she said.

Luciah 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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