Connect with us


How Basutoland Ink, LEFA deal soured



MASERU – It is just over seven years since Basutoland Ink debuted as the main kit sponsor of Lesotho’s national team, Likuena.
The date was August 11, 2011 and the move was heralded as a momentous moment as a local apparel company, for the first time, took sponsorship of the country’s flagship side.
The contract was also a boon for Basutoland Ink as it gave the company its most high-profile deal since its launch in 2006.

It wasn’t just Likuena that was supplied, Basutoland Ink provided new attire to all of the Lesotho Football Association’s (LEFA) national teams in a five-year deal.
Apart from supplying kits, Basutoland Ink also sweetened the deal by promising M5 million in cash to whichever national side that qualified for a FIFA or CAF tournament.
The kit – a white home strip and a green away jersey – was paraded by Lesotho around the continent and its unique style was a welcome departure from the bland kits Lesotho had worn previously.

Likuena even enjoyed success in the kit.
In August 2014, Lesotho reached its highest-ever FIFA ranking of 105 and the side competed in 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Ghana, Zambia and Sudan claiming a memorable away win in Sudan along the way.

Likuena also reached the semi-finals of the 2013 COSAFA Cup in Zambia, going unbeaten from the group stages through to the final four.
Last year, however, the Basutoland Ink-LEFA marriage ended without a word and Likuena debuted a generic Adidas strip at the 2017 COSAFA Cup in South Africa.
Theories swirled on the fate of the deal and, in an interview with thepost, Basutoland Ink director, Bokang Kheekhe, clarified the company offered LEFA a new contract last May before the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers started.

However, according to Kheekhe, Basutoland Ink was given the silent treatment by LEFA and is yet to receive any word from the association saying it has decided to take its business elsewhere.
“The contract ended (in 2016) but we had the first option to renew and we showed interest to continue with the contract; it was an entitlement as per the contract that if (Basutoland Ink) still wants to continue as sponsors we can,” Kheekhe says.

“We gave (LEFA) a proposal which was modified given our experiences with them over the five years and they never replied, they never wrote back to us to tell us ‘No, we are not continuing with you and that was it’. They went to Adidas to go buy from Adidas and apparently they are expensive.”
LEFA declined to comment for this article but several reports say Likuena’s Adidas kit was purchased for M1 million. Details on the senior side’s kit, in general, remain vague.
Kheekhe said Basutoland Ink’s partnership with Lesotho’s national teams from 2011 until the end of 2016 had no financial rewards for the company.

Basutoland Ink, he said, supplied kit to LEFA for its national teams and offered the association a provision to purchase jerseys to sell as merchandise for profit.
“It was not a financial sponsorship, we were technical sponsors,” Kheekhe explained.
“This was the first project of its kind in the country and LEFA had no sponsor before that. We gave them a proposal that we will sponsor (LEFA) with everything that is needed on the field and off field and above that we were making replicas to be sold to the fans.”

LEFA’s dumping of Basutoland Ink has not gone down well with sections of the public. Two weeks ago, an online petition was launched by a group of Basotho enthusiasts demanding LEFA return business to the local clothing company.
The petition has been signed by over 600 people so far and is looking to get 1 000 signatures.
It is unclear what will happen when the petition reaches its target but Kheekhe distanced Basutoland Ink from the campaign.
“I have nothing to do with the petition; Basutoland Ink has got nothing to do with it,” he said.
“I think what happened is after LEFA started wearing Adidas people kept asking what is going on and they were surprised to see (Likuena) in an Adidas jersey. As a person you would love to explain to people when they ask, but LEFA chose not to work with us even though they did not say anything to us,” Kheekhe said.
“(LEFA) decided they will go buy elsewhere which personally I don’t have a problem with. Speaking as a director of Basutoland Ink, I think I don’t have a problem with that decision because we gave them a proposal that we knew we were comfortable with.

“The petition, I think, is people feeling we are being hard-done by or that why now when LEFA has money they go buy Adidas or Lotto yet they never bought anything from Basutoland Ink that has been there with them for the past five years. I think that is where it is coming from.”
Kheekhe, nonetheless, said he shares the gripe of petitioners who contend Basotho businesses sponsoring sports should also be supported. He added LEFA missed a trick because Basutoland Ink’s sponsorship deal was beneficial to the association.

“It is painful from a business point of view because clubs are struggling, even LEFA is struggling,” Kheekhe said.
“I think if they are genuine, they know, in terms of their growth, that our proposal was going to help them to avoid these things of sometimes not being able to pay the players their per-diems,” he added.

“We proposed to say ‘we are going to sell you this number of replicas, the profit you are going to make from selling these replicas is yours so that they can pay these players that are on national duty’. But now they are going to buy and I doubt there are going to be replicas to be sold.”
Kheekhe also accused LEFA of abusing its five-year association with Basutoland Ink.

“We had started something that is sort of a business for (LEFA) because replicas are sold for profit,” Kheekhe said.
“We said ‘here is what you can sell’, and the kit already had a following because you could see people wearing that replica and it means we were going somewhere.”
“The saddest thing is that when we were working with LEFA there were people who were faking these replicas, I am sure you have seen a fake Likuena kit made by people on the streets. Now LEFA is working with those people, the same people that were ruining our business LEFA is working with them and they are actually buying from them,” he said.
Basutoland Ink, however, will continue to supply kits for clubs.

“We are a business, we have interests in the sporting sector,” Kheekhe said.
“We work with different teams. We worked with Liphakoe, they bought stuff from us. We worked with Lioli. Right now we are working with Galaxy, we have also worked with Linare before,” he said.

“It is part of our work, we don’t only work with the national team, we work with every Mosotho or organisation that will help to see the mandate of Basutoland Ink continues.”
Kheekhe said talks are progressing with Econet Premier League giants Matlama over a potential partnership.
“We will continue to work with different clubs and not only in football. Right now we are talking with one volleyball club and hopefully basketball too,” he said.
“There are other teams in the premier league and we are still hunting for more. Hopefully Matlama is coming on board, we are still talking but it looks promising.”

Luciah Phahla

Continue Reading


Moerane signs for Orbit



CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe made a bold statement during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire that this tournament will go down as the best in the history of the beautiful game.

The tournament has indeed lived up to those expectations as it reaches the quarter-final stage. The continental showpiece has entertained us with everything that every football fanatic would expect from a big continental tourney like the AFCON.

His decision to join Orbit FC ends months of speculation where he was linked with several clubs in South Africa in both the Premier League and Motsepe Foundation Championship.

The Mazenod-born goalkeeper had been the centre of attention after years of impressive displays playing for his country in various competitions.

Moerane had not only been a hit in Southern Africa, where in 2023 he was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the COSAFA Cup, but had also been given standing ovations in countries like Cote D’voire and Nigeria, where Likuena surprised the continental powerhouses.

The goal-minder was also the 2022/2023 Vodacom Premier League Goalkeeper of the Season adding that he was sad to leave the police outfit, who had been on an impressive run in the current season.

LMPS remains the only team that is still unbeaten in the league.

“This has been a challenge I have been looking forward to and I’m very happy that it has finally come true,” Moerane said after his arrival in South Africa.

“I know that it will not be easy as I come to a new country, new team, new teammates and new coach, which I all have to win over to trust me as their new player.”

Moerane is adamant the presence of experienced Likuena teammate, Tshwarelo Bereng, who is a journeyman and is well respected, will help him settle down quickly at his new club.

“He is a very experienced and respected player, whose presence at the club, I have no doubt will help me settle down quickly at this club,” he said.

“This is a new chapter of my career, where I need to start all over and make a legacy like I did during my time with LMPS.

“I have been preparing myself for some time now and I think I’m mentally and physically ready for this new challenge,” he said.

Moerane said the First Division will be a good stepping stone for him to make a name for himself in South Africa.

“I’m happy with the move to the First Division, it’s a good platform for me to make a name for myself and I believe I will still get to the bigger league or clubs, but it has to go through the right channels,” he said.

The agency that represents the player, Opus Sports Group with renowned football administrator Chris Bullock as the managing director, stated that they felt the first division was a good platform for Moerane to gradually grow into South African football.

“The move was about Moerane taking the next step of his career. He will get a good opportunity to get exposure at a good NDF club and if he does well, it will be a chance for him to progress further,” Bullock said.

“We liked how Orbit conducted themselves throughout and their vision for Sekhoane too and I think everyone is on the same page.

“It’s now up to Sekhoane to work hard and perform the way we know he is capable of and the rest will take care of itself,” he said.

Bullock also expressed gratitude to LMPS FC for allowing Moerane, who was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant, to leave the country for greener pastures.

Mikia Kalati


Continue Reading


Manonyane boss blames injuries for poor run



Manonyane head coach Mosholi Mokhothu has blamed injuries for his side’s poor Vodacom Premier League campaign.
After a promising 2022/23 season in which they won two of their final four games and finished 11th, Manonyane have taken a major step back and find themselves languishing in 14th place.

The Roma side haven’t won a league match since a 1-0 win over Machokha on November 18, a run of nine games that includes five losses.
Manonyane have been so bad, in fact, that they haven’t scored a goal in all three games they have played since the turn of the year.
Their poor form has, unsurprisingly, dragged them firmly into the relegation picture.

Manonyane are four points above 15th-placed CCX who occupy the final relegation place, and the Roma side are in real danger of relinquishing the coveted top-flight status they gained in 2020.
Mokhothu pointed to Manonyane’s lengthy injury list as the reason for their struggles.

Thabang Tsakajoe (midfield), Bokang Matobo (striker), Molise Masoabi (midfield) and Bakoena Mosola (fullback) are all injured while Moraphate Nkejane has only recently returned to training.

All five players are key and their absences have hurt a squad that doesn’t have great depth.

“(After the injuries) it became difficult to use the available players in positions they do not play,” Mokhothu said.
The former Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service mentor admitted Manonyane have to turn the corner quickly.
“We are at the point where we are fighting for a win in every game,” he said.

“We are trying to not put the players under pressure (but) we are in a risky position now, we are now discussing how we can move up the table,” he added.
Having won the league with Lioli and LCS, Mokhothu has experience of what it takes to navigate the challenges of a season. He said Manonyane’s improvement needs to start on Sunday when they host Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) who haven’t had the best of seasons themselves.

The army side, who finished third last season, are in ninth place with 22 points from 12 games and have fallen short of their own pre-season expectations.
“I believe starting from this coming week; we will work hard on winning game after game,” Mokhothu said.

“It might happen that we win or draw in those games but, most importantly, we want to see if our results are pushing us up (the league table) or not,” he said.
He said the team plays well but do not have enough knowledge of how to score goals, something that was evident in their latest blank last Sunday when they lost 1-0 to LCS.
“Last season, we were creating many chances, even if we lost some of the games but we were still converting them unlike the LCS game. On Sunday, most of my attacking players were not there so I ended up making forced changes because of the situation,” he said.

Mokhothu said the LCS game taught him valuable lessons about his players, however.
“We saw who can play where and where some (players) need assistance and I am pleased that if they can hear me out, we can change our way of playing and results,” Mokhothu said.

For that to happen, the club’s supporters will also play a big role, he added.
“The players really need the supporters, so they should always show up and give (the players) hope,” Mokhothu said.
“It is true that the supporters are supporting us with crying hearts but I promise them that, one day, they will get what they expect.”

Relebohile Tšepe

Continue Reading


Afcon lives up to expectations



CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe made a bold statement during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire that this tournament will go down as the best in the history of the beautiful game.
The tournament has indeed lived up to those expectations as it reaches the quarter-final stage. The continental showpiece has entertained us with everything that every football fanatic would expect from a big continental tourney like the AFCON.

In the last edition of the tournament held in Cameroon, I was able to put my head on the block from the word go that the Terranga Lions, as the Senegal national team is popularly known, would go all the way, which they did as they were crowned champions after defeating Egypt on penalties.

I have tried to do the same with this tournament and I must confess, it was very difficult to make a prediction as to who will walk home champions when the tournament ends on February 11.

At the completion of the group stage, a lot of people had their money on the defending champions Senegal and Morocco, who looked unmatched in the group phase as each won all their games.

Fast forward to the last 16, both countries were eliminated by Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa respectively. Worse for Cote d’Ivoire, their tournament looked to be over when in their last match of group stage, they suffered a humiliating a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea, who everyone regarded as minnows.

That was the biggest defeat suffered by AFCON hosts but the Elephants were thrown a lifeline into the round of 16 qualifiers as one of the four best-third placed finishers.
The Ivorian FA didn’t waste time and sacked Frenchman, Jean-Louis Gasset, which didn’t come as a surprise to me as the Elephants were not convincing at all during his spell in charge of the West African country.

I managed to watch his team closely as they played against Likuena in the qualifiers. During the first leg played at the Dobsonville Stadium, the two countries played out to a goalless draw while in San Pedro, the Elephants secured a narrow 1-0 victory.

Former Ivorian international Emerse Fae was tasked with the responsibility of saving the sinking ship of the Elephants, a job he did with aplomb as the hosts fought their way back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw against defending champions, Senegal taking the last 16 tie to penalties, where they won 5-4.
I must say the Elephants looked a different side to the one I saw under Gasset as Fae got them firing to stun the defending champions, who have since packed their bags and gone home.

Cote d’Ivoire were indeed very lucky as the same cannot be said of the likes of Ghana and Algeria, among the big guns sent packing in the group stages of the tournament.
The poor performance of the Black Stars and the Dessert Foxes led to both Chris Hughton and Djamel Belmadi agreeing to step down as the coaches of the West and North African countries respectively.

Morocco is another country that was tipped to contest for the AFCON title, but they also failed to come to the party in their last 16 encounter.
Bafana Bafana won the match 2-0 to book a place in the quarter-finals.
Bafana Bafana have proved a hoodoo for Morocco, who many people thought would win the continental showpiece after their exploits at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, where they became the first African country to reach the semi-finals.

Their struggle against Bafana Bafana is nothing new as it dates to the days of former African Footballer of the Year, Mustafa Hadji.
Bafana Bafana’s opponents in the quarter-finals, Cape Verde, have been the surprise package of the tournament. The Blue Sharks’ remarkable journey in Cote d’Ivoire saw them win a group that had both Egypt and Ghana.

They have since inked a milestone in the history of their country winning a knockout match for the first time after beating Mauritania to set up a showdown against South Africa in the quarter-finals.
Mauritania themselves punched above their weight to have made it to the last 16 at the expense of a powerhouse like Algeria, who they beat 1-0 in the group stage. I have been impressed by their coach, Amir Abdou, who is making a name for himself as one of the best coaches in the continent having achieved a similar feat with Comoros in the previous edition of the tournament.

The one team that was under the microscope going into the tournament for unconvincing performances is Nigeria.
They eliminated Cameroon in the last 16. Their talisman Victor Osimhen has lived up to the billing of having recently been crowned African Footballer of the Year.
He has been the main man for Nigeria so far in the tournament by not only scoring goals, but also providing assists. His attitude and commitment in the field of play has been second to none.

I must say, the Super Eagles looked ordinary without Osimhen as they struggled to get their groove in matches played before AFCON where they were held by Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa have all looked very solid in their last 16 matches and I have a feeling they all have a very good chance of making it to the semi-finals. My gut feeling tells me that the AFCON trophy is going to remain in West Africa with Nigeria or Cote d’Ivoire winning it.
I really think that they tournament has lived up to expectation both on and off the field. Credit goes to the continental football body CAF under the leadership of Patrice Motsepe and Cote d’Ivoire as the host country, for putting so much effort to make the tournament a success.

To the government of Lesotho, this is yet another lesson of how football can be powerful when it has the support of its government as witnessed with countries like Mauritania and Cape Verde, who were deemed as minnows but are making strides in major continental competitions.
I have managed to visit some of these countries as well as others like Comoros, who have also qualified for AFCON tournament in recent years. Their governments have invested hugely in football infrastructure hence they are able to go pound for pound with some of the best in the continent.

Mikia Kalati


Continue Reading