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PLMC wants league season completed



MASERU – The Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) remains committed to restarting and finishing the 2020/21 Vodacom Premier League season but says a decision cannot be made yet.
The league’s spokesperson, Qamako Mahao, said the PLMC is still looking for an opportunity to resume the season.

He said the league cannot afford a repeat of last year when the season was canned with a third of the schedule still to play because of the pandemic. When that happened Bantu, who were leading the standings, were crowned champions but the decision was followed by a series of complaints and court cases from runners-up Matlama.
Mahao would not explicitly say it, but the PLMC appears determined to play this season to a finish.

The pandemic interrupted 2020/21 season had just entered its second round of fixtures when football was stopped last week by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro due to rising positive cases of Covid-19 in the country.
As things stand, Matlama lead the league with 40 points from 16 games, three points ahead of champions Bantu who have played a game less.
Judging from last year’s squabbles, ending the season now and crowning a champion is a recipe for disaster.

Mahao hinted as much, which is probably why the PLMC appears desperate to resume league play as soon as possible.
“We cannot afford to experience what we experienced last year, it’s becoming a problem now and a problem has a solution,” Mahao said.
“Last year we had to stop during the season and, at the end, we had such long cases that cost a lot of money rather than funding activities that enhance our product which is football. People are quick (to call) for a conclusion,” he added.

Last week, Prime Minister Majoro announced Lesotho is moving back to Purple Colour because of an increase in Covid-19 cases.
Under this level all contact sport is banned which means football is on hold for the second time this season after pausing from January until May because of the pandemic.

Discussions have already started amongst fans with some saying the season must be ended, but the league is not in a hurry. The season was set to be concluded on September 4 and that end date may be extended.
However, it is anyone’s guess when football will be able to resume.
Covid-19 has hit local football and to date Matlama has the highest known number of positive cases. Last week the club announced that two technical members and seven players had tested positive.
Club activities were immediately put on hold and individuals with positive results went into self-isolation.

The test results came after the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) ordered mandatory testing for all Premier League and A-Division teams. From the results submitted to LEFA, the average of positive cases at club level is above five percent which Mahao admitted does not look good.
Several teams are yet to submit their data and Mahao said just because football is on hold, that does not mean the PLMC no longer needs tests to be done.

Mahao said it is important the league knows the level of infection and who has recovered when the opportunity to resume play arises.
The PMLC, however, has not had any talks with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) over whether football teams can be included in the next group of vaccinations.

Last week, Lesotho received 302 400 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine as a donation from the United States government. The US embassy said the donation is the third of many deliveries that will be allocated to Lesotho in the coming months.
Previously when LEFA asked NACOSEC for sport to be prioritised for vaccines it did not happen and there is no guarantee it will happen now.

However, Mahao held out hope and suggested the government should use sport as a yardstick to measure the impact of Covid-19, especially in the villages.
“It would be nice if the government can use sports as the yardstick to measure the impact of Covid, that would be very good, especially because football is organised,” Mahao said.

“When you get to the district there are DIFAs (District Football Associations) and those DIFAs have statistics of every team in the league. So, if you want to check just how much the impact of Covid is in the districts, you go to structures that are already organised like these ones,” he said.

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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