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Lioli coach rules himself out



MASERU – Stand-in Lioli coach Motebang Makhetha has ruled himself out of the running for the club’s top job despite the fine work he has done in his two months in charge.
Makhetha took over from Malemakale Mahlaha in early October just after the Teyateyaneng giants’ lifeless Independence Cup display.
At the time, the long-time Lioli assistant inherited a fractured dressing room that was close to open revolt, club insiders say.

Indeed, when he resigned, Mahlaha complained of fan interference and blamed player power for the side’s lacklustre displays.
However, Makhetha, who was an assistant coach during Lioli’s league triumphs in 2013, 2015 and 2016, steadied the ship and ‘Tse Nala’ find themselves two points adrift of Econet Premier League leaders Bantu, with a game in hand.

Nevertheless, with Lioli’s executive set to announce a new fulltime coach by the New Year, Makhetha insists he prefers to remain as an assistant coach.

“Lioli, for me, is my home, whenever am in TY I feel at home. I am happy to help and step in (during) situations like this when the team asks, but I think it is always best to find someone else (to be head coach) and I will support that person,” Makhetha said.

“I can be permanent elsewhere,” he continued. “Lioli is my home. I think the best responsibility is to support the team and always help where I can.”
When Makhetha took over it had become one of the unspoken truths of Mahlaha’s final days in charge – both inside and outside the club – that Lioli’s expensively assembled squad was developing into nothing more than a disparate collection of cliques.

Sources say a number of big personalities were beginning to hold as much influence in the dressing room as the coach which, in turn, was breeding an unhealthy environment and becoming a principal factor in Lioli’s failure to deliver the style of football it has been built to achieve.
Despite their array of Lesotho international stars, Lioli finished last in October’s Independence Cup before the squad immediately left the stadium after their third-place playoff loss to Kick4Life.
With the skies much brighter now in TY, Makhetha credited the club’s fans, staff and players for turning things around. Lioli are unbeaten under Makhetha, winning four of six matches.

And, despite a disappointing 1-1 draw with Sefotha-fotha last weekend, Lioli are still well placed for an assault on a third title in four years.
‘Tse Nala’ are only second in the Econet Premier League because their 2-0 win over Sundawana in September has been nullified after the Butha-Buthe side was booted out of the league last week.

“The response was very fantastic hence the results,” Makhetha said.
“The management stepped in (to help) and I also think the supporters have matured. So, I think the credit will go to the supporters, the management, the players and then the technical team.”

Lioli’s executive committee is yet to make a final decision on who will take the team’s reins going forward but the club’s vice-president, Mthoalo Mthoalo, confirmed the five-time champions will make an appointment immediately after the completion of the first round in the coming weeks.
Mthoalo, though, admitted Lioli’s board is pleased with Makhetha’s work. He said the interim boss would remain in the club’s technical set-up even after the appointment of a new coach.

“We are satisfied, so far, with (Makhetha),” Mthoalo said.
“We see what he is doing but we have not made a decision about his future. We are hoping to make an appointment of a new coach after the first round games. Makhetha was already in the team. He was an assistant coach and was asked to hold on (as head coach) until we make an appointment,” he said.

In the meantime, Lioli are preparing for a crunch clash against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) at the Lioli Stadium in Teyateyaneng on Saturday. LMPS will be no pushovers. They are seventh in the league with 13 points from nine games.
A win would be another significant feather in the cap for Makhetha. More importantly for Lioli, three points would be another step towards regaining their crown as Lesotho’s league kings.

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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