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Secker blames player power

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MASERU-Former Lioli head coach Thabile Secker has explained why his adventure at ‘Tse Nala’ was cut short with the Econet Premier League season only three months old.
Secker joined the Teyateyaneng side on a two-year deal in August after failing to agree on a new contract with Matlama.
The move was hailed as one that could finally take Lioli back to the top of Lesotho football after a barren four-year run without winning the league title.

When he joined Lioli, Secker had just won an historic 10th league title with Matlama.
However, things did not go as planned in TY and last Thursday he tendered his resignation at the six-time league champions.
Speaking to thepost this week, Secker said player power pushed him out of the club and he accused Lioli management of interfering with his job as coach.
Lioli are now under the interim stewardship of Soai Mosola who was Secker’s assistant.

Secker said he felt the club’s management undermined him which allowed the players to do the same.
Secker, who won the league title with Lioli as a player in 2009, said he suspended a player and the player immediately went to management and was reinstated into the team with no hearing at all.
Although Secker was coy to name the player and what he did, it is believed the related player is Tumelo Makha whom Secker apparently didn’t get along with and suspended from the team.
Makha was restored by management and the only game he did not start while Secker was in charge was a league game against Bantu last month which Lioli lost 2-0.

Makha was on the bench for the defeat to Bantu.
“There is not much to say really, it is about the management, they were interfering with my job as the coach,” Secker told thepost.
“When a player misbehaves and as the coach I try to discipline the player by suspending him and such a player goes straight to the management and he is reinstated back into the team without any hearing, it shows lack of respect and it looks like I have no control over players and the players will undermine me in such cases, therefore, I decided I will resign because they were interfering with my job,” he said.

Secker is not the first Lioli coach to apparently be undermined by his squad and have players reporting him to club management.
Former coach Halemakale Mahlaha spoke about rife player power in Teyateyaneng and credited it for his resignation from ‘Tse Nala’ in October 2017.
Mahlaha resigned after finishing fourth in the Independence Cup where Lioli lost 2-1 to Kick4Life in the third and fourth place playoff.
In that game, Mahlaha substituted Tšoanelo Koetle, now with Bantu, who was Lioli’s captain on the day. Koetle refused to shake hands with Mahlaha as he was subbed, in front of teammates and thousands of fans who were at Setsoto Stadium.

South African coach Morena Ramorebodi, who was at Lioli for just six months last year, also hinted at player power at the club.
Last season, ‘Tse Nala’ fans were up in arms demanding that the club’s management resigns. They also called for certain players to leave Lioli as they felt they divided the dressing room.
It seems the problems still exist.

Secker admitted he was aware of the player power accusations at Lioli before he took the job but he felt things would be different because he has his own principles he works with.
Secker said he would be back on the touchlines should an opportunity arise for him to return to coaching.
“For now there is nothing but if an opportunity comes up I will be back,” Secker said.

“I will see if it’s good for me because my career comes first, money comes second, it’s not always about money. I have heard different views from (Lioli) fans, some say they understand why I resigned but not everyone is going to love you. Maybe some didn’t like the way I was doing things.”
Lioli public relations officer Lekhoesa Mokhoele responded on Tuesday.

“We received (Secker’s) resignation letter last Thursday stating that he is parting ways with the team without stating his reasons. We therefore called a meeting (on Monday) to write to him asking him to state why he left the team but some members of the panel (rejected that),” Mokhole said.
“Instead, we wrote to him showing that we received his termination letter and gave him a one month notice (period) but he should not be part of the technical team until the time bound is done.”

Tlalane Phahla

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Lifofane in dreamland

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Lifofane are enjoying their best top-flight season since winning promotion in 2019.

The Butha-Buthe side are seventh in the Vodacom Premier League after a four-match unbeaten run and a win over relegation-threatened Manonyane on Sunday could see them catapult into the top six and within touching distance of an improbable top four finish.

The roots of Lifofane’s success can partly be traced back to 2020 when they shocked the country by capturing the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) Top 4 tournament.

The Buthe-Buthe outfit bagged M195 000 for winning the knockout competition in Matšonyane and that money has helped the upstart club progress.

Lifofane were able to buy training equipment and gear to improve their on-field product and, off the field, some money was saved to cover the team’s food and transport costs on away days.

Five years later and Lifofane are reaping the benefits of their prudent management.

Their management choices include the hiring of Katiso Mojakhomo as coach in March last year and his arrival has been a home run – Lifofane have developed into a disciplined, well-oiled machine this season.

Mojakhomo is one of Lesotho’s most successful coaches having won back-to-back league titles in 2007 and 2008 with the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) and his experience has allowed Lifofane to punch above their weight which was perfectly epitomised in their last two matches, a pair of 1-1 draws with Matlama and defending champions Bantu.

Both opponents were traditional giants desperately chasing the league title but Lifofane matched them blow for blow.

Mojakhomo said he is delighted with the improvement he has seen in his charges but there is still room to grow.

“It is our expectation to see the team at the top by the end of this Premier League season and we are going to work as hard as we can to make this happen,” he said.

Lifofane, of course, are not the league’s first surprise package.

Many clubs have had a good season or two before fading away.

Sundawana and Sky Battalion are just two teams over the past decade that have taken the elite league by storm for one campaign only to vanish from memory.

Mojakhomo said Lifofane’s vision extends beyond just doing well this season.

He said the club are determined not to allow their smaller stature to hinder their ambitions of establishing a long-term status in the premiership and competing with the big boys for seasons to come.

“There are many challenges that the team faces but we try to overcome them in as many ways as possible,” Mojakhomo said.

“The team’s management work together to come up with solutions.”

Moipone Makhoalinyane

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Seema wins top award

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Lesotho football legend Lehlohonolo Seema has praised his Sekhukhune United players after he was named Coach of The Month for February and March in South Africa’s DSTV Premiership.

It is the first time Seema has won the prestigious award in his coaching career and it rewards the impressive job he has done at Sekhukhune since joining the club in November from Polokwane City.

Sekhukhune United, or “Babina Noko”, are unbeaten over the last two months.

In the process, they have scored 11 goals and conceded just three times to shoot all the way up to fourth place in South Africa’s elite league.

Their unbeaten 2024 includes a five-match winning streak in which they beat Richards Bay 3-1 and Golden Arrows 1-0 in February and then dispatched Royal AM 1-0, Swallows 4-1 and Soweto giants Orlando Pirates 2-1 in March.

Seema told thepost he is delighted to receive the recognition, especially because it is his first time winning the award.

He also praised his players for their role in the team’s success.

His captain, Linda Mntambo, was named the DSTV Premiership player of the month and it is the first time a player and a coach from Sekhukhune United win the award.

“This recognition is the first-ever recognition in my life and for ‘Babina Noko’,” Seema said.

“I honour my players a great deal because, without them, I would not have been recognised. Their effort and passion has brought us this far.”

Seema said it is not easy coaching in the pressure cooker that is South Africa’s top-flight but his side have managed to navigate through the challenges they have encountered.

“The pressure in the DSTV Premiership is real. Every team is fighting but what helps me and the team is taking it one game at a time,” Seema said.

The highlight of Sekhukhune’s run over the past two months was their stunning 2-1 win on March 30 over Orlando Pirates, a side Seema captained during his playing days, which must have made that particular victory all the more sweeter.

The former Likuena captain said beating big teams like Orlando Pirates is not an easy assignment and Sekhukhune United’s victory showed him that the team was growing.

Now, Seema is gunning for nothing less than a top four finish at the end of the season.

A first-ever CAF Champions League spot for Sekhukhune United is also possible.

Finishing in the DSTV Premiership’s top two spots earns a coveted ticket to Africa’s premier club competition and Seema’s side are four points behind second-placed Stellenbosch with eight games to go.

Sekhukhune United’s next opponents?

Stellenbosch, at home, next Wednesday.

“Now we have to prepare well, more than before,” Seema said.

“Our schedule for the next games is very tight. If we will be playing against Stellenbosch on the 17th (of April) and on the 20th we are playing again against Cape Town Spurs, two days will not be enough – we have to start now to prepare for both games,’ he said.

Seema said his appreciation also goes to Sekhukhune United’s supporters.

“Their presence lifts us to win.”

Relebohile Tšepe

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Linare players set for windfall

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Linare players are dreaming of walking away with M330 000 at the end of the season by snatching second place in the Vodacom Premier League.
‘Tse Tala’ have won five of their last six matches and are the hottest team in the top-flight right now.

Linare are unbeaten in the league since February 10 and no team has collected more points than the 16 the Hlotse side have amassed in that period.

Their fine form continued on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and now Linare’s players want second place, at least.

Linare are fourth in the Vodacom Premier League with 43 points from 24 games, 11 points behind second-placed Matlama with six games to go.

It is a longshot to crack the top two, but ‘Tse Tala’ believe they can do it and midfielders Tšepang Sefali and Tšepo Makhanya said they have not given up hope of even stealing the league title.

“We would be so grateful if we can reach second place but if (league leaders) Lioli lose three or four games, we will have the opportunity to be the champions,” Sefali said.

Linare’s confidence is soaring high because they don’t know what a loss feels like since Bob Mafoso took over in early February.

Their only defeat came last month in the People’s Cup semi-finals against Matlama and that was on penalties.

Mafoso took over after Leslie Notši’s departure in January and Sefali and Makhanya said they have felt the difference.

Linare finished second in the Vodacom Premiership last season under Notši, an impressive feat, but they had dropped to seventh place by the time he departed.

With a top four finish slipping away, Linare found a new spring in their step when Mafoso arrived and Sefali said they hit the ground running because they knew what their new coach demanded and expected of his players.

“Almost all the players in the team have met and faced (Mafoso) before (when he was coaching other teams) and they all understand his strategies and techniques,” Sefali said.

“Our players already knew what he wants from the players, so we do not want to waste any time but do exactly (what Mafoso wants),” he said.

“Yes, coach Leslie Notši did a good job and we appreciated his effort but now we are seeing what we expected in the league because of the presence of (Mafoso),” Makhanya said.

Sefali said the competition for places has skyrocketed over the past two months and that is pushing every player to work hard and fight to play every match.

“There is too much competition; everyone wants to prove his talent to coach. Everyone wants to play every game but I am happy that our coach gives every player a chance to play which makes the team improve,” Sefali said.

“Even though we have not had much time with (Mafoso), his presence has brought a positive impact on the team,” he added. “I believe going forward; we will do more than what we are doing. I believe it is not early to praise him.”

Makhanya said one of the keys has been the togetherness Mafoso has brought to the team and they are confident to say they will stay in the top four and even finish the Vodacom Premier League season in second place.

A top four finish would be real progress for ‘Tse Tala’ because they have not had consecutive top four finishes since 2004, mainly because Linare have been consistently inconsistent from year to year.

Mafoso told thepost on Monday that very experienced coaches mentored the team before his arrival. He said his predecessors, Notši and South African guru Teboho Moloi, did a lot of good work so the reception of the players has made his job easier.

“I would like to appreciate the reception they gave me,” Mafoso said.

“Every team is good because of the players it has, so I accepted the assignment (to coach Linare) because of the quality that I believed the team could have. It is a long process that is at its start, but we are happy with how we are growing,” he said.

Mafoso said Linare are ready to win as many games as they can to finish the season on a high note.

“The dedication and attitude of the players satisfies me a lot, it is why we are doing well,” Mafoso said.

Relebohile Tšepe

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