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Mehalalitoe dumped out



Lesotho’s national women’s team, Mehalalitoe, have been dumped out of the 2023 COSAFA Women’s Cup with a game to spare.

Mehalalitoe lost both of their opening two games, against Zimbabwe and Botswana, which meant even a win over Namibia yesterday in the side’s final Group C game would have not been enough to send Lesotho through to the semi-finals.

So far, Mehalalitoe have not even been able to score a goal which is a contrast to last year’s outing where they went back home with three points and three goals, albeit that all Lesotho’s goals were scored by captain Boitumelo Rabale who is missing for this year’s edition.
Her absence has left a huge void which nobody seems capable of filling.

Rabale is not just a leader for Mehalalitoe, she is also the biggest threat the team carries. The Mamelodi Sundowns playmaker is respected by opposition players and her presence alone can be intimidating.

While Mehalalitoe have a valid case about missing their captain, it is worrying that the team is incapable of playing, scoring goals and winning games without her.
Lesotho lost 1-0 to Zimbabwe last Friday before a disappointing 3-0 loss to Botswana on Monday.

Mehalalitoe seem to have become a one-woman team which is perhaps a compliment to Rabale but is also a huge load on her shoulders.
It’s up to the technical team to find ways of getting results without Rabale because even though she is an elite player, she cannot do it all on her own.
Lesotho’s game against Botswana in which Mehalalitoe were beaten in every department proved it. Even if Rabale was there, it is highly doubtful the result would have been different.

Despite the two defeats it hasn’t all been doom and gloom for Lesotho. The defeat against Zimbabwe was very unfortunate. It took Zimbabwe one chance to score and win the game while Mehalalitoe fumbled numerous opportunities, and it was chances that may have turned into goals if they had fallen to Rabale.
Despite being a goal down, Mehalalitoe never stopped running against Zimbabwe.

They left the pitch proud of their performance and felt they were just unlucky against the 2011 champions.
I have no idea where all that disappeared to against Botswana as it seemed Pule Khojane’s side had forgotten how to play. Botswana are a good team but the first goal came from a defensive error and the other two were crosses into the penalty box that went directly into the net.

The coaches have lamented a lack of communication between the players on the pitch and it is almost as if they forget how to communicate with each other, cover for one another and execute the game-plan.

Compared to last year, Mehalalitoe looks to have taken a step back. The only glimmer of hope is that this is a young team that can play together for the next three or four years and grow as a unit.

‘Makhotso Moalosi and Nthabeleng Makhabane, both of whom are 20 years old, are some of the youngest players in the team who came through the national team’s junior ranks, and there are plenty of others who can be better for the national side in the future.

While it is easy to judge Mehalalitoe based on the results, it is worth noting that 95 percent of the players play at home in the Women’s Super League.
Improvement in the league will translate to the national team and this is something that head coach Pule Khojane spoke about with reporters last Friday.

“For so many years, women’s football was not recognised in the country as it is now and it is fast improving. Our league is not one of the best in our region but each and every year we are improving,” Khojane said.

“We used to have one team (Lesotho Defence Force) playing in the national team but at least for this year we are trying to neutralise that, teams are improving and obviously it will help the country going forward,” he added.

“Seeing other players go outside the country to play for bigger teams – like we have a player at Mamelodi Sundowns, we have two players at Royal AM (in South Africa’s elite league) – it means a lot to the younger players. They also want to play at the highest level and I think in no time things will change (in Lesotho women’s football),” Khojane underlined.

Indeed, Mehalalitoe used to be dominated by LDF players and while they still make up the majority of the squad, it’s unlike in previous years when Lesotho’s starting team would be just LDF players barring one or two names.

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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