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Senong ready for Zimbabwe

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MASERU – Lesotho head coach Thabo Senong is confident good preparation will lead to a good performance against Zimbabwe in the sides’ pivotal 2020 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier on Sunday in Harare.
The match is the first leg of the crucial tie with the return game on October 18 at Setsoto Stadium and the winner set to qualify for the 2020 CHAN finals in Cameroon next January and February.

Lesotho doesn’t have a good record against Zimbabwe, however.
The Warriors have won six of the seven meetings between the nations since 2012. Those defeats include COSAFA Cup semi-final losses to Zimbabwe in each of the past three editions of the regional tournament, the most recent coming in June in South Africa.

An upbeat Senong, however, refused to dwell on the past as he prepared to lead his new-look Likuena into battle.
“I think the nice thing about football is that every match gives you an opportunity to win,” Senong said yesterday at Setsoto Stadium as his side concluded their preparations for Sunday’s date with the Warriors.
“We cannot really focus on the past but you can always use it as a reference to get statistics but we must understand it is now a different generation,” the Lesotho coach said.

“This Likuena team is a different generation, different players; some young, some experienced and it is the same with the Zimbabwe team. It is a different team with different players with a new coach.”
Senong, who will be taking charge of his third Likuena game on Sunday, said key to the outcome of Sunday’s game will be preparation.
“If we prepare and plan well we have a chance and if Zimbabwe prepares well and plan well as well they have a chance, so the game belongs to any team,” he said.

“It is a psychological game; whoever wants it more will get it and at this time we don’t know if it is Likuena or it is the Warriors. We just have to focus on our preparations and fix a few mistakes we are doing in our training and in our friendly matches. That is the only thing we can do: focus on ourselves, improve our weaknesses and hopefully we can have a chance to give Zimbabwe a needed competition,” Senong said.
The South African coach was appointed as Likuena boss last month and his first task in charge was a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia which Likuena lost on away goals two weeks ago despite dominating the second leg at Setsoto.

This CHAN tie against Zimbabwe offers a tonic for that disappointment and a chance for Lesotho to qualify for a major continental competition for the first time.
With Lesotho on the doorstep of history, Senong has left no stone unturned in scouring for players to make a difference in the CHAN competition that is open only to locally based players.
Matlama’s Phafa Tšosane was added to the Likuena set-up this week and Senong said every player in the squad has been selected on merit and with an eye on Sunday’s crunch tie.

Several stalwarts of Likuena’s busy year such as captain Basia Makepe have also been retained and Senong also stressed the importance of keeping Likuena’s core together to ensure continuity.
“To be honest we still have 98 percent of the team (that faced Ethiopia),” said the Likuena coach.
“The only player that has been released is Rethabile (Mokokoane) of Matlama. We still kept the core of the team, continuity is important. We still have to keep the team together and we have included a few individuals from different clubs. We have made five inclusions in total.”
Senong said each player called up to Likuena had something to offer to the team’s collective.

“I don’t really want to dwell so much on their individualities because it is a team sport,” he said.
“We don’t want to put the players under pressure because everyone is here on merit and the five call-ups we made after the Ethiopia game we are just trying to reward good performances for their respective clubs.”

Tlalane Phahla

 

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Rabale eyes Champions League glory

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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

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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

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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:
Semi-finals:
Saturday (Bambatha)
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies

Tlalane Phahla

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