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Ruthless Bantu put LMPS to the sword



MASERU – Rampant. Ruthless. Merciless.
We are running out of words to describe Bantu’s impressive opening weekend performance against Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) as the Vodacom Premier League returned to action after four long months.

With that time on the side-lines you would expect a lethargic, slow game but it seems the champions just continued where they left off last year in December and LMPS were no match at all for them. It looked as if Bantu had been competing all along while LMPS looked like they met on the day and organized themselves for a random day out. It is undeniable that ‘A Matšo Matebele’ have a big squad that boasts quality in every position and their team is full of national team material.

If that is how Bantu look like after not playing for months, you can only guess what they will do once they get their momentum in three or four games.
From the first minute Bantu’s intentions were clear, they wanted to get an early goal to settle down and to wreck LMPS. Lazola Jokojokwane nearly put the champions ahead within five minutes but Moerane Sekhoane was too close and collected the ball.

Eventually in the 10th minute Bantu captain Litšepe Marabe opened the scoring with a superb strike and all Sekhoane could do was to watch it roll into the net. LMPS would feel they were not totally outplayed as they were still able to get the ball out of their own half and tried to create problems for Bantu but they could not test Ntsane Lichaba at all, only one good ball that Bokang Mothoana delivered into the box from a free kick it could have gone anywhere but somehow, Bantu got it out of danger.

Fothoane doubled Bantu’s lead in the 23rd minute to take the game away from ‘Simunye’. Going into the half-time break, the champions were in total control and the second half was no different as Marabe bagged his second goal of the day. Both Kalake and Jokojokwane had chances to extend the lead but could not convert their chances.

Head coach Bob Mafoso was delighted with the victory and said the first games are always important to win as they set the pathway.
A loss piles the pressure but a victory helps build momentum and nobody knows this better than Mafoso who won his first league title with Bantu unbeaten last season. He said having not played for such a long time, it is difficult now as the games are coming quick in a short period of time. While winning and building momentum is important, Mafoso says they will manage their games and players, but said making too many changes disrupt the rhythm of the team.

“We thought they would be behind the ball but we got spaces, we said let’s see if they (LMPS) can go three minutes without the ball,” Mafoso said as he analysed Bantu’s win over LMPS.
“I think it helped because one or two (changes) came and we found spaces. Also I don’t think there is a team that head the ball like them here in Lesotho, we tried to avoid giving them corners, I don’t think we gave them corners, did we? I don’t think we did, they did have a free kick. It was about defending in the air and not allowing them to come near our corners, when we have the ball it was about building.” He said.

Last year, Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) announced the new rules to be used this season, due to the coronavirus and teams not playing for a long time, clubs will be allowed to make five substitutes using three opportunities during the 90 minutes of the game. Mafoso said with limited opportunities to make changes it is difficult as at some point two substitutions have to be made, but said they are going to try have their best players on the pitch in every game.

“Where we are forced to make changes we have no choice, we have a big squad of quality players but remember lot of changes can make you lose rhythm, even now you saw the drop off so it’s difficult even making substitutions because you have three opportunities, you are forced to sub in two players at some point and when you do that you kill the rhythm,” Mafoso said.

Either way, the champions are back in business and look even meaner than before. If the results of the opening weekend are anything to go by, the title race could be very interesting. Next on Bantu’s agenda is Liphakoe this weekend.

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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