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Kamela back with a bang

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After a year on the side-lines nursing a knee injury, Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) midfielder Khubetsoana Kamela produced a remarkable debut for the police team in the 2023/23 campaign which saw him score eight goals.
That is the most Kamela has scored since debuting in the Vodacom Premier League six years ago, and on top of the goals, he provided numerous assists to his teammates.

Normally people that have suffered knee injuries and stood on the side-lines for a long time come back shy of contact on the field. Sometimes they do not play the whole season because they are still nursing themselves back into the game, both physically and mentally.

The fact that the 24-year-old Kamela only missed one league game for LMPS last season and played 29 games is what makes his comeback even more remarkable. At LMPS he is not learning, he is delivering what is expected of him, he says.

He credits Kick4Life and his former coaches for making him the player he is today – a boy that has grown into a man and is now a reliable key player for the police team.
Kamela says the Kick4Life foundation is the best any young player can get. While at Kick4Life he got to learn from experienced players such as Bokang Mothoana and coaches like Leslie Notši and Bob Mafoso, amongst others.

Each coach had their own philosophy which meant players had to adapt and it is the different styles and coaching that he says made him grow as a person and player.
“Anyone who can get into the Kick4Life academy, be lucky, they will get the best foundation. I learnt a lot, it was a learning period for me while there, and now it’s about delivering,” he says.

“I worked with different coaches at Kick4Life as you know. They taught me different styles and I am the player I am today because of them. At LMPS it’s about delivering on the pitch now, people expect me to deliver,” he continues.

Staying that long on the side-lines can take a mental toll on any player and for Kamela it was no different. He says the most difficult period of his recovery was watching his team play and struggle to get results, knowing there is nothing he could do to help.

His elder brother Jerry Kamela, a Lesotho international who also has had his fair share of injuries, and his family gave him much-needed support.
If it was not for them backing him to make a comeback, it would have been easy for Kamela to wallow in his sorrows. Instead, he became motivated to make a full recovery, and he enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career.

“It’s the first time in my career that I have so many goals, I think I have grown a lot. Being in the LMPS team has removed any complacency and has brought the best out of me because we have to compete for places,” Kamela says.

“There are players that can play in your position,” he adds.
“You know we have guys like Tšoarelo Mokoaleli, Relebohile Thulo and many more, there is so much talent. You are competing against the best and when you do that you grow. The team becomes better and you become the best because of competition,” he said.

Before debuting for LMPS, Kamela went for the Special Operations Unit (SOU) training and he says it is one of the things that helped him stay fit and in the right physical shape all season.

Kamela says he was surprised this season by his ability to play positions he never played before. He is more of a creator, a player you look to for a killer pass or an assist, but he has also been sound defensively which is impressive.

“I was surprised, even people that have known me for a long time were asking where do you play? I have played defensive, right wing back, full back. These are positions I didn’t play before, because of the fitness I could attack and defend. I think that training also helped with fatigue and I am happy that I can play multiple positions,” he says.

Although scoring goals is every player’s desire when on the pitch, Kamela says for him it is also about helping his teammates, whether that is by assisting a goal, or making a pass that starts a movement for a goal.

Kamela says he is happy even if he does not score himself.

“I am happy to contribute, I have more assists this season I am not sure but when I don’t score I am happy to assist. I don’t think Monyatheli (Ntobo) has scored 12 goals before, I am not sure he has done that before but he did this season which means us the midfielders did our job,” the playmaker says.

“Of course, you hope to do more, it doesn’t matter the conditions, teams, or coaches. Every player wants to improve,” he says.
LMPS finished fourth on the table ahead of the likes of Matlama, Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and Lioli. Kamela believes they can improve on their position next season.

Why not aim for the title? He asks.
LMPS are known for a physical game, but Kamela believes they got into the top four because they let go of physicality and did the basics at a high level.
“In the first round I think we were physical, we were not conceding goals, I think we went 10 games without conceding but we were not winning either, we were drawing games,” Kamela recalls.

“In the second round we did more basics and in the 15 games we played we lost only three, drew none and won 12. Yes, we conceded a few (goals) but we won,” he says.

There is something different about this crop of players at LMPS as well.
Kamela says it is a group of talented players who love football. Perhaps the past LMPS rosters had more talent but the current crop love what they do and it is shown by their position on the log.

“Playing for LMPS has made me grow, given me character and that fighting spirit,” Kamela beams.
“The new crop of players coming up should dedicate themselves to the game and love it. Life is not easy.”

Now that the season is over, Kamela is playing football socially whenever he can. He says he is trying to avoid contact as much as possible, but is also working on strengthening his knee.

 Tlalane Phahla

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Lifofane in dreamland

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Lifofane are enjoying their best top-flight season since winning promotion in 2019.

The Butha-Buthe side are seventh in the Vodacom Premier League after a four-match unbeaten run and a win over relegation-threatened Manonyane on Sunday could see them catapult into the top six and within touching distance of an improbable top four finish.

The roots of Lifofane’s success can partly be traced back to 2020 when they shocked the country by capturing the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) Top 4 tournament.

The Buthe-Buthe outfit bagged M195 000 for winning the knockout competition in Matšonyane and that money has helped the upstart club progress.

Lifofane were able to buy training equipment and gear to improve their on-field product and, off the field, some money was saved to cover the team’s food and transport costs on away days.

Five years later and Lifofane are reaping the benefits of their prudent management.

Their management choices include the hiring of Katiso Mojakhomo as coach in March last year and his arrival has been a home run – Lifofane have developed into a disciplined, well-oiled machine this season.

Mojakhomo is one of Lesotho’s most successful coaches having won back-to-back league titles in 2007 and 2008 with the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and his experience has allowed Lifofane to punch above their weight which was perfectly epitomised in their last two matches, a pair of 1-1 draws with Matlama and defending champions Bantu.

Both opponents were traditional giants desperately chasing the league title but Lifofane matched them blow for blow.

Mojakhomo said he is delighted with the improvement he has seen in his charges but there is still room to grow.

“It is our expectation to see the team at the top by the end of this Premier League season and we are going to work as hard as we can to make this happen,” he said.

Lifofane, of course, are not the league’s first surprise package.

Many clubs have had a good season or two before fading away.

Sundawana and Sky Battalion are just two teams over the past decade that have taken the elite league by storm for one campaign only to vanish from memory.

Mojakhomo said Lifofane’s vision extends beyond just doing well this season.

He said the club are determined not to allow their smaller stature to hinder their ambitions of establishing a long-term status in the premiership and competing with the big boys for seasons to come.

“There are many challenges that the team faces but we try to overcome them in as many ways as possible,” Mojakhomo said.

“The team’s management work together to come up with solutions.”

Moipone Makhoalinyane

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Seema wins top award

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Lesotho football legend Lehlohonolo Seema has praised his Sekhukhune United players after he was named Coach of The Month for February and March in South Africa’s DSTV Premiership.

It is the first time Seema has won the prestigious award in his coaching career and it rewards the impressive job he has done at Sekhukhune since joining the club in November from Polokwane City.

Sekhukhune United, or “Babina Noko”, are unbeaten over the last two months.

In the process, they have scored 11 goals and conceded just three times to shoot all the way up to fourth place in South Africa’s elite league.

Their unbeaten 2024 includes a five-match winning streak in which they beat Richards Bay 3-1 and Golden Arrows 1-0 in February and then dispatched Royal AM 1-0, Swallows 4-1 and Soweto giants Orlando Pirates 2-1 in March.

Seema told thepost he is delighted to receive the recognition, especially because it is his first time winning the award.

He also praised his players for their role in the team’s success.

His captain, Linda Mntambo, was named the DSTV Premiership player of the month and it is the first time a player and a coach from Sekhukhune United win the award.

“This recognition is the first-ever recognition in my life and for ‘Babina Noko’,” Seema said.

“I honour my players a great deal because, without them, I would not have been recognised. Their effort and passion has brought us this far.”

Seema said it is not easy coaching in the pressure cooker that is South Africa’s top-flight but his side have managed to navigate through the challenges they have encountered.

“The pressure in the DSTV Premiership is real. Every team is fighting but what helps me and the team is taking it one game at a time,” Seema said.

The highlight of Sekhukhune’s run over the past two months was their stunning 2-1 win on March 30 over Orlando Pirates, a side Seema captained during his playing days, which must have made that particular victory all the more sweeter.

The former Likuena captain said beating big teams like Orlando Pirates is not an easy assignment and Sekhukhune United’s victory showed him that the team was growing.

Now, Seema is gunning for nothing less than a top four finish at the end of the season.

A first-ever CAF Champions League spot for Sekhukhune United is also possible.

Finishing in the DSTV Premiership’s top two spots earns a coveted ticket to Africa’s premier club competition and Seema’s side are four points behind second-placed Stellenbosch with eight games to go.

Sekhukhune United’s next opponents?

Stellenbosch, at home, next Wednesday.

“Now we have to prepare well, more than before,” Seema said.

“Our schedule for the next games is very tight. If we will be playing against Stellenbosch on the 17th (of April) and on the 20th we are playing again against Cape Town Spurs, two days will not be enough – we have to start now to prepare for both games,’ he said.

Seema said his appreciation also goes to Sekhukhune United’s supporters.

“Their presence lifts us to win.”

Relebohile Tšepe

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Linare players set for windfall

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Linare players are dreaming of walking away with M330 000 at the end of the season by snatching second place in the Vodacom Premier League.
‘Tse Tala’ have won five of their last six matches and are the hottest team in the top-flight right now.

Linare are unbeaten in the league since February 10 and no team has collected more points than the 16 the Hlotse side have amassed in that period.

Their fine form continued on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and now Linare’s players want second place, at least.

Linare are fourth in the Vodacom Premier League with 43 points from 24 games, 11 points behind second-placed Matlama with six games to go.

It is a longshot to crack the top two, but ‘Tse Tala’ believe they can do it and midfielders Tšepang Sefali and Tšepo Makhanya said they have not given up hope of even stealing the league title.

“We would be so grateful if we can reach second place but if (league leaders) Lioli lose three or four games, we will have the opportunity to be the champions,” Sefali said.

Linare’s confidence is soaring high because they don’t know what a loss feels like since Bob Mafoso took over in early February.

Their only defeat came last month in the People’s Cup semi-finals against Matlama and that was on penalties.

Mafoso took over after Leslie Notši’s departure in January and Sefali and Makhanya said they have felt the difference.

Linare finished second in the Vodacom Premiership last season under Notši, an impressive feat, but they had dropped to seventh place by the time he departed.

With a top four finish slipping away, Linare found a new spring in their step when Mafoso arrived and Sefali said they hit the ground running because they knew what their new coach demanded and expected of his players.

“Almost all the players in the team have met and faced (Mafoso) before (when he was coaching other teams) and they all understand his strategies and techniques,” Sefali said.

“Our players already knew what he wants from the players, so we do not want to waste any time but do exactly (what Mafoso wants),” he said.

“Yes, coach Leslie Notši did a good job and we appreciated his effort but now we are seeing what we expected in the league because of the presence of (Mafoso),” Makhanya said.

Sefali said the competition for places has skyrocketed over the past two months and that is pushing every player to work hard and fight to play every match.

“There is too much competition; everyone wants to prove his talent to coach. Everyone wants to play every game but I am happy that our coach gives every player a chance to play which makes the team improve,” Sefali said.

“Even though we have not had much time with (Mafoso), his presence has brought a positive impact on the team,” he added. “I believe going forward; we will do more than what we are doing. I believe it is not early to praise him.”

Makhanya said one of the keys has been the togetherness Mafoso has brought to the team and they are confident to say they will stay in the top four and even finish the Vodacom Premier League season in second place.

A top four finish would be real progress for ‘Tse Tala’ because they have not had consecutive top four finishes since 2004, mainly because Linare have been consistently inconsistent from year to year.

Mafoso told thepost on Monday that very experienced coaches mentored the team before his arrival. He said his predecessors, Notši and South African guru Teboho Moloi, did a lot of good work so the reception of the players has made his job easier.

“I would like to appreciate the reception they gave me,” Mafoso said.

“Every team is good because of the players it has, so I accepted the assignment (to coach Linare) because of the quality that I believed the team could have. It is a long process that is at its start, but we are happy with how we are growing,” he said.

Mafoso said Linare are ready to win as many games as they can to finish the season on a high note.

“The dedication and attitude of the players satisfies me a lot, it is why we are doing well,” Mafoso said.

Relebohile Tšepe

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