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‘National vision for Lesotho’



MASERU-It has been six months since football was suspended in Lesotho due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has crippled the entire world and brought it to a standstill.

In that time the Lesotho government has put in place a law that totally prohibits sports in any capacity and the blackout continues.
As is the case across much of the continent, competitive football has been put in limbo. In July the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) had to make a decision to end the 2019/20 league season and it handed the championship to the leaders of both the Econet Premier League and Lesotho Women’s Super League, and promoted the leaders of the A-Division’s two streams to the top-flight.

While the coronavirus has ravaged all plans for football in the country and put a stop to everything, it gave time to Lesotho’s national team head coach, Thabo Senong, LEFA’s technical director, Leslie Notši and LEFA’s Coach Educator, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana and former national team director Seephephe Matete to come together to work on the National Philosophy document that will be available publicly on LEFA’s website when it is ready.

Not having a national philosophy has been a challenge to coaches during isolation in terms of coaching players separately as well as when it comes to developing players, amongst other difficulties coaches face.
The document, which is still being worked on, is meant to help coaches not only in the Econet Premier League, but in the lower divisions as well as the Women’s Super League.

With the world of football changing, it constantly requires new ideas, new thinking and that has prompted the football people at LEFA to come up with a refresher course for the coaches next week ahead of the new season.
Senong said they looked at what the coaches really need and where Lesotho is in the world in terms of football.

“The challenges we have as a country are down to not having a national playing philosophy and that has contributed to a lot of football clubs in the country working in isolation, developing players in isolation and coaching teams separately because they don’t have blueprint they can use as reference,” Senong said.

The South African tactician said it is crucial to have a roadmap of how to develop players at all levels of the game.
“How can we develop players? Which method of coaching players do we use at the performance level which is Premier League and A-Division and which method do we use to develop players at C and B Division and amateur football?” the national coached asked.

“It will be easier if I am a young coach in Mokhotlong and if I really want to understand how to develop a young player I just go to the website and print out the document and see the Under-12 (age group),” Senong said.
“We develop (Under-12 players) with 5 versus 5, the cooling down is just ball juggling, so the objective is to just perfect the technical skills and to allow the children to play; there is less coaching but more playing so that the kids discover their skills and improve their independence,” Senong said.

He said they have come up with topics that will help the coaches to align themselves in relation to their everyday challenges at clubs and see if they cannot be better going into the new season.
The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers are coming and Likuena are not ready for any action; the national team have not played football let alone trained.

LEFA is trying to get permission from the government for the national team to at least be allowed to train and Senong has admitted that calling up players to the Likuena squad will now be different.
Previously, performances at club level have played a role in selection of players, however, now he says they are looking at quality as well as experience.

“It will be a very strange exercise to select players because normally we select players based on their performances in their respective clubs so now we will be selecting players differently, now we value the natural quality that we know they possess and the experience,” Senong said.
“We will look at the number of caps a player has because you also need experienced players to compete at international level. It will be a very difficult task for me to assess the players. It is going to be a challenge to get the team to be at 100 percent.”

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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