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Good times are back for Matlama



MASERU – What a year it has been for Matlama fans.
After suffering through a barren decade without the sweet taste of silverware, ‘Tse Putsoa’ will happily end 2019 with two major trophies in their arms following a successful Independence Cup on Sunday at Setsoto Stadium. It was a weekend of celebration and history for Matlama and their boisterous supporters loved every minute as their star-studded side showed up to capture the Independence Cup crown for the first time since 1994.

Matlama were, of course, built for these occasions.
In recent years the Maseru Glamour Boys have added international experience such as Mabuti Potloane and Lebajoa Mosehlenyane to their home-grown talents such as Jane Thaba-Ntšo and Phafa Tšosane as they sought to rule Lesotho football once again.
The formula finally worked a charm this year.

In May, Matlama won the league for the first time since 2010 and on Sunday they were the last team standing as they outlasted Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) 1-0 in the Independence Cup final.
It was fitting that it was Potloane, one of those big-name signings, who was the match-winner as ‘Tse Putsoa’ claimed their seventh Independence Cup title in club history.
The honour of leading Matlama to the coveted trophy fell to Malawian coach Charles Manda who took over as head coach in August.
Matlama rode their luck in the final. LCS were the superior side and had the better chances to score but ‘Tse Putsoa’ were clinical and won thanks to Potloane’s second half strike.
Manda admitted it was a tough game.

“My players put character into this game, it wasn’t easy,” the Malawian mentor said.
“LCS is a good team, they play good football. We respected them but it was just bad luck on their side. They created lot of chances (which) they didn’t convert. We had one chance in the second half and we converted it; it’s good luck for us but bad luck to LCS.”

“I just told the guys to be confident enough to play the ball around and to be circulating the ball because we knew if are kicking the ball (forward) we will be playing LCS’s game which we are not good at. So we tried to put the ball down, find some combinations and have some crosses coming in, that’s why the team played a good game today,” the Matlama coach added.
The Independence Cup victory will come as a relief to Manda who has had plenty sceptics of his knowledge of local football since he was hired.

The triumph, perhaps, will also kick-start Matlama’s league campaign as the season heads into its all-important second half.
Matlama’s title defence is on shaky ground because although ‘Tse Putsoa’ sit second in the Econet Premier League, they are already eight points adrift of rivals Bantu after 10 matches.
Manda, however, insisted there is still a long way to go in the race. He said the Independence Cup success will spur ‘Tse Putsoa’ in the league and the LNIG Top 8 when it kicks off early next year.

“We are not struggling in the Premier League,” Manda asserted.
“Football is like that, we take one game at a time; we cannot win every game. We are still in contention, we are not out. We have grabbed this one so we have to focus on the league and the (LNIG) Top 8; you never know what will happen next.”

This year’s edition of the Independence Cup was delayed from its usual October date because the Premier League struggled to finalise sponsorship.
But, in the end Matlama won’t mind as they walk away with M200 000, another financial shot in the arm for the club after they collected M500 000 for winning the league in May.
For Manda it was also a welcome opportunity to shut his doubters.
“It is important for me to win this cup with my club, (the critics) can doubt me but football is like that,” Manda said.
“They don’t know me but I know what I am doing with the team, this is evidence. You can see the team is competing (and) we are moving. We are the champions so we play like champions because we deserve to be champions.”

Independence Cup awards:
Winners: Matlama (M200 000)
Runners up: LCS (M100 000)
Third place: LDF (M70 000)
Fourth place: Bantu (M50 000)
Individual awards:
Player of the tournament: Stephen Heyong Essono (Matlama) – M8 000
Top goalscorer: Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama) – M6 000
Goalkeeper of the tournament: Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama) – M6 000
Referee of the tournament: Osiase Koto (M4 000)
Assistant referee: Puleng Mahomo (M2 000)

Sports Reporter

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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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