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Mafoso takes blame for dismal tournament

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MASERU – Lesotho Under-20 head coach Bob Mafoso has taken full responsibility for his side’s dismal display at the 2018 COSAFA Under-20 Championships in Zambia.
The Makoaanyane XI were dumped out in the tournament’s pool stage on Sunday after collecting one point from three Group C games and afterwards Mafoso said inadequate preparations and having to overhaul last year’s silver medal winning squad contributed to Lesotho’s underwhelming performance in Kitwe where the 2018 championships were hosted.
Mafoso was speaking at a press conference on Sunday after Lesotho’s final group game ended in a 1-0 defeat to Botswana.

The side’s other results in the pool were a 4-0 loss to Zimbabwe and a 1-1 draw with Angola, a far cry from the Makoanyane XI’s 2017 performance under Leslie Notši when Lesotho went all the way to the final before falling 2-1 to South Africa.

In some ways Mafoso foreshadowed his side’s struggles. Before leaving for Zambia, he lamented having to select a new squad due to the bulk of last year’s finals players passing the 20-year age limit.

“I will take the blame as the coach (for Lesotho’s performance),” Mafoso declared.
“I think the preparations were not good (enough); if you perform like this it means you did not prepare well.”

Mafoso added: “I will go back to what could be referred to as external factors. We were only able to retain about four to five players from last year so it will be unfair to say the same team would still play in the final (because) it was completely a new team.”
“I think the factors (that affected our performance) could be that we did not prepare well and the other one is that we cannot be judged by last year’s performance because this was a completely new team.”

Lesotho did start the tournament promisingly enough.
Tšeliso Botsane gave the Makoanyane XI an early lead against Angola in their Group C opener last Sunday only for the side to be pegged back in the second half for a one-all stalemate.
It was downhill from there, however, as Lesotho crashed 4-0 to Zimbabwe three days later and 1-0 to Botswana on Sunday.
Mafoso called the outing in Zambia a lesson for him and his players and insisted they will return stronger next year.

“It’s very important for the boys to get this type of exposure; you never lose everything in football, we lost matches but we gained experience which will go a long way towards developing our players,” he said.

“I think the first target with youth players is to prepare them for the senior teams. I think in that regard we have achieved something, but we had a terrible tournament considering that we played in the final last year and now we have been eliminated with only one point.”

Mafoso continued: “That means a lot of teams prepared better against us and we were stuck where we were and we didn’t think we could improve our team. But it is a lesson learnt for the technical team, it is a lesson learnt for the players. We hope next year we will be better than this year.”

In dissecting his side’s performance, Mafoso noted that Lesotho struggled to deal with the pace of their opponents forcing his side to play on the back foot and rely on counter-attacks.
“The speed of play is what our team has struggled with,” Mafoso said.

“I think a lot of teams were very quick, they were quicker than us. We tried to play on transitions in certain games but you could see that we are still paces behind (our opposition).”
Pace and speed of play are Lesotho’s biggest areas of improvement, Mafoso said.

“I think this is what we have learnt – that football is an intensity sport instead of endurance because we ran for 90 minutes in all the games and we never had cramps but we did not achieve anything, we still lost games,” he said. “I think it is very important to go back home and to improve our speed of play.”

Luciah Phahla

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Rabale eyes Champions League glory

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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

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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

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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:
Semi-finals:
Saturday (Bambatha)
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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