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No takers for Sky Battalion



MASERU – On sale Vodacom Premier League outfit Sky Battalion are struggling to find a buyer after a deal with Galaxy fell through last week.
‘SK’ were the surprise package of the 2016/17 season and finished fifth in the league in what was a fairy-tale debut campaign in the top-flight.
However, according to the club’s secretary general, Samuel Phulane, Sky Battalion’s Chinese owner Hua Gao decided to sell the team’s premiership status after squabbles with executive members and coach Thabile Secker over wages.

Phulane said the commotion over unpaid salaries started in May after the side’s final league game against Lioli.
At the time Hao was out of the country and notified the club he would only return to Lesotho after the June 3 national elections.
The Chinese businessman claimed elections were usually a politically volatile period for foreigners; however, some club members were not prepared to wait.
Phulane said relations between Hao and his club executives and coaching staff quickly deteriorated to the point the owner decided to sell ‘SK’.

A-Division campaigners Galaxy were then lined up to buy Sky Battalion’s premier league status but the deal collapsed after Galaxy failed to pay the agreed amount by a deadline of July 10.
Phulane refused to disclose figures but said ‘SK’ are continuing to look for a buyer before the season starts.
The search is likely to increase in desperation.

Last month the premier league released the fixture list for the 2017/18 season and teams have already started pre-season training.
The new Vodacom Premier League season starts on August 26 while Sky Battalion are slated to begin their campaign on August 27 against Kick4Life.
“So far we have not yet found a buyer and we are continuing to look for a buyer. Either it could be a club buying our premier league status or an individual buying the club,” Phulane told thepost.
“We are still talking to other teams and we are willing to negotiate with anyone who could be interested.”

He added: “We put a deadline to Galaxy that by 10 July they should pay a certain amount and the remaining amount was to be paid later by instalments, but it didn’t happen instead we received a letter from them withdrawing as buyers,” he said.

Phulane said it is difficult to finance a premier league team and revealed clubs are yet to receive their annual grants from the league since the season ended in May.
Because of the financial woes Sky Battalion are facing, several key players were allowed to join other Vodacom premiership teams such as Kick4Life and Bantu.
Other players were allowed to go home while some are training with other clubs despite not having received their clearances from Sky Battalion.

“There was a disagreement between the coach, the players and the owner over wages,” Phulane said as he explained the current chaos at ‘SK’.
“It all started back on the 6th of May after our last (league) game with Lioli. Some members wanted their salaries at that time but the owner was not in the country; instead, he promised to pay them when he came back after the elections.”

He continued: “I think people were impatient, they couldn’t wait, and then the disagreements over wages started. The owner decided to sell the club and allow players to join other teams. We negotiated with some teams like Kick4Life and you will realise they signed three players from us.”

Earlier this month Kick4Life unveiled the signings of striker Bonang Mohapi, talented attacking midfielder Tšepang Ntsenyane and goalkeeper Rorisang Moabi from ‘SK’.
Phulane said despite being on the lookout for a buyer, the club is yet to officially write to the premier league with its intention to sell.
To compound Sky Battalion’s woes further, Phulane said the club’s equipment has also been seized by people saying they are owed money by Sky Battalion.
The equipment includes items such as the club’s stamp and players cards.

“Earlier this year the coach was let go and he was free to join any other team after writing to the management that he cannot continue working without pay but he took the cards even though he had been promised that he will get his money,” Phulane said.

Phulane said Sky Battalion was founded to help Basotho display their football talent and he expressed dismay at the current state of affairs.
If Sky Battalion fail to find a buyer and do not register by the time the 2017/18 Vodacom Premier League season starts, they could be forced to coordinate with the A-Division Management (ADMACO) and have a promotional playoff with the runners-up from the first division to determine who will take their place in the elite league.

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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