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Mahlaha pleads for patience



MASERU – Matlama interim head coach Halemakale Mahlaha has pleaded with the club’s supporters to be patient with the team as they work to turn their season around.

Matlama’s fans are notoriously impatient and the defending champions are languishing in sixth place on the Vodacom Premier League table with 23 points from 15 games.

‘Tse Putsoa’ are a full 13 points behind leaders Bantu as the season enters its second round which is a far cry from the champions’ expectations when the season started in September.

Back then Matlama kicked off the season with four wins in a row and were top of the table at the beginning of October, but their train suddenly spiralled out of control and league-winning coach Mothobi Molebatsi resigned at the end of October after being attacked by a Matlama fan in Morija following a league defeat to Lijabatho.

That is when Mahlaha took over but things have hardly improved at Pitso Ground as Matlama have won just twice in their last 11 games under his guidance.

Matlama’s last game before the Christmas break was a 2-1 defeat to Lifofane which only served to anger their fans even more but Mahlaha said he hopes ‘Tse Putsoa’ can turn a new leaf in the new year and he urged supporters to stick with the team.

“I want to say to the fans: have patience and give us a chance to work. We understand that, as the face of Matlama, we need results, but I am pleading with them to be patient especially with players,” Mahlaha said.

“They can talk to us but one thing I learned is that the fans are not happy with some of the players. I am asking for patience; let’s work together as management, supporters and players because we all want the same thing, to be happy,” he said.

A former Lesotho Under-17 national coach, Mahlaha is in his second stint as Matlama coach and the club were hoping his wealth of experience which includes coaching the likes Lioli and Likhopo would revitalise the club’s on-field performances.

However, Mahlaha said he found deeper lying problems when he arrived – the attitude of players was unhelpful, their self-esteem was low and the coaching was immediately under pressure because the league had already started.

A deeper clean-up was needed and, before the Christmas break, the champions terminated the contracts of 10 players citing ill-discipline and a lack of game-time.

The club said the decision was made in agreement with the technical team and the players offloaded included Lesotho international midfielder Lisema Lebokollane who was a key player in Matlama’s 2022 league triumph.

Mahlaha said they made changes believing they would help the team in the long run and he insisted they were already seeing changes even before letting the players go.

He said he saw a continuation of positive signs when Matlama resumed training on Monday after the Christmas break. ‘Tse Putsoa’ have two weeks to gel before they resume their season next weekend against Swallows.

“All in all, I see people trying to improve from where they were, we have hope that this time around during these two weeks, even though there is rain, there is a positive attitude we are seeing,” Mahlaha told thepost.

“We made some changes within the team that we think will help us and that the (players) left will recover quickly,” he added.

“It is encouraging that the first day back after the break you find regular players available, almost all the players arrived, they were over 20 players at training.”

Mahlaha said Matlama will try to strengthen the team during this January transfer window and the plan is to mix young players with experienced ones in the hopes of building a better long-term future for the club.

In a bid to build team morale and recover in time for the league’s restart, the club is also planning to host team-building activities on Saturday.

The champions host 14th-placed Swallows next weekend at Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground which would seem to be a good opportunity to turn their season around.

“We tried to mix young talent with experienced ones,” he added.

“We think it will help long-term and then not let go but just continue from there. As much as we will be trying to compete, we must have a long-term plan. The owners of the team, which are the supporters, want results. So, we need to balance (those expectations) so that we finish second round in a good position.”

Tlalane 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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