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Senong says goodbye



MASERU – Last Friday, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) announced the resignation of Likuena head coach Thabo Senong.
The announcement came as a shock as Likuena are deep in their preparations for the 2021 COSAFA Cup which starts next Tuesday in South Africa.

Senong was preparing the team and had called up a preliminary squad of 30 players he was set to trim this week.
His resignation comes after a warning delivered by LEFA boss Advocate Salemane Phafane back in April that Likuena should at least get to the semi-finals of the tournament or face consequences.
It also brings an end to Senong’s one year and nine months stay in Lesotho coaching the national team.

During that time, Senong was in charge for 13 matches of which seven ended in draws and six in defeats.
While Senong did not win a game with Likuena he had his admirers in the football fraternity who felt he had brought change to the national team and that results would soon follow.
Senong also had critics, however, who felt Likuena should have been doing better.

Either way Senong says he has nothing but good memories about the country, its players and the football fraternity. He said he is grateful for his time in the Mountain Kingdom. Senong left Lesotho on Monday for Johannesburg.
Speaking to thepost from his home country he said he will continue to play a role in helping players from Lesotho to move to footballing nations in order to further their careers.

thepost: How did you find Lesotho and how would you sum up your time here?
Senong: My period in Lesotho was amazing I will always cherish every day I spent in that beautiful country, the scenery and the mountainous areas are just amazing and beautiful. I enjoyed my hiking. I was well received in Lesotho, I was well received by Basotho, and the staff members at LEFA were amazing; from the security people, the management to the entire leadership of LEFA. They made sure that I was well taken care of. (I will remember) the people and the supporters; I made a lot of friends and, of course, I met a lot of interesting coaches.

We had a very humbled and disciplined captain in Basia Makepe and he was the face of the group and I am sure he influenced the other young players to be as disciplined as he was. So, for me, he is somebody who also believes in discipline and humility. Personally, I developed a lot of cultural intelligence because, as a foreign coach, you come with your different skills and knowledge, and it was always interesting to transfer what I know into a different group of people. It is not easy, you have to find ways to adapt.

Is there anything you feel perhaps you could have done better?
Maybe involving a full-time psychologist in our training is something I should have done looking at the challenges that some of the players are facing as human beings because they come from different backgrounds. Some players come from very challenging backgrounds with socio-economic factors that are really affecting their performances.

I am still proud of what I did to the players because I was always a father to them, I was always a friend to them, I was always a leader to them, and, of course, I was always their mentor and I will continue mentoring some of them, especially the young ones.
I will continue mentoring the senior ones in their transition from being players into coaching. So, yes, now the connection will never end. I will just continue working with them, just to help them because I sensed that I was working with a group that have football talent but they also have challenges socially, and within their backgrounds.

What are your proud moments with Likuena?
I worked with a group of players who are generally very good technically. They enjoy ball possession, so my intention was to always complement their strengths and help them effectively in managing space because modern football is about looking for spaces when you have the ball, it’s about controlling the spaces when you don’t have the ball. So, for me, I was able to manage the importance of respecting spaces, improving their relations with the space because when I started working with them they only had a good relationship with the ball.

Of course, even how we manage set-pieces, we adjusted some elements within our set-up. (We applied zonal marking in the match) against Nigeria that was played in Maseru, the match against Sierra Leone that was played away and the match against Benin that was played in Maseru. Those are some of the proud moments because you could see that the team was tactically disciplined but, at the same time, had a fair balance of creativity and freedom to make sure the players enjoy themselves within the good framework of structure and discipline.

Due to recent ill-behaviour in camp, a lot of people feel you were sabotaged by players. Do you feel the same?
The Mozambique camp had many challenges. We didn’t have enough time to prepare the team, we didn’t have enough time to train the team. We only trained twice in Maseru and we travelled more than 12 hours, so that could be one of the factors in Mozambique.

Yes, the discipline of the players was not good, it was very bad and, yes, I could sense that maybe there were players who didn’t want to work with me. It’s natural, it’s part of our coaching job that you will find a group of players who don’t want to work with a coach and you find a group of players who want to work with a coach.

My focus has always been in a group of players who are coachable, who have the right character and mentality to represent the national team with pride, so I will focus on those positives and it’s unfortunate for the players who didn’t want to work with me because I am a very open, humble coach who enjoys helping people to achieve their ultimate potential and, of course, I will help a lot of players. Some are doing well in the Vodacom Premier League, some are doing well in the DSTV Premier League in South Africa, some are even excelling abroad, you know.

Do you have hope in Likuena’s future?
When you look at the natural talent in Lesotho I am optimistic that one day Likuena will be a force to be reckoned with, Likuena will be able to achieve big things. The big challenge is only the exposure of players. The players are not getting to move to foreign-based clubs as early as possible so that they can further their development. Personally, I will also contribute to help some of the players in their movement from Lesotho into maybe other footballing nations so that we can increase the number of exports because that could also contribute to the success and the progression of Likuena.

What are your plans for the future?
It’s hard to tell, but my destiny has always been guided by my daily habits. I am a life-long student of the game. I am currently studying an international language. I am taking French lessons, I am doing an online football periodisation course and I am sure (that) soon I will be involved in (the South Africa Football Association’s) coaching structures as an a coaching instructor because I am now a qualified FIFA and CAF coach educator.
I am sure that I will also be involved in the professional clubs in the DSTV Premier League in future. We don’t know what the future holds for us but, if we remain focused and humble, the sky will be the limit.

Tlalane Phahla

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Women rugby stars picked by Free State



Two Lesotho women’s rugby stars, Thato Moeti and Mookho Lesoetsa, have been selected to the Free State senior team for the 2024 season.
The duo have been selected after their sterling performances for Lesotho in the on-going Free State Women’s Rugby League in South Africa and now Moeti and Lesoetsa can look forward to competing in the Cheetahs League, which marks a major step in their rugby careers.

Moeti told thepost yesterday that she is “very grateful for the opportunity” to be part of the Free State squad.

“It has always been my wish to be selected and, finally, I made it in the eyes of the Free State management,” Moeti said.

“I believe that if (Lesotho rugby) players can play with heart and spirit, and if they show their talent in the league, they can also be selected next season,” she added.

The management of the Free State women’s team scouted players from Lesotho to join in their squad last year as well.

12 months ago, it was Palesa Pitso, Mosongoa Monaheng and Nthabeleng Lebetsa who were picked, and they remain with the squad.

The selected players sign yearly contracts with the Free State team and Lesotho’s contingent at the club is now up to five.

The team manager of the national women’s rugby team, Tumelo Phenya, said Lesotho’s players seem to improve and “become very competitive” when they compete across the border because everyone wants the exposure and opportunity to compete outside the country.

He said being part of the Free State Women’s Rugby League allows Lesotho’s players to showcase their talent and opens doors for them to be selected for the Cheetahs League the following year.

“We are very lucky that South Africa recognises our players, especially because rugby in South Africa is at a high level. It shows progress for us as a country that we can produce players that can be competitive internationally,” Phenya said.

Phenya said he aims to see Lesotho compete at the Women’s Rugby Cup one day.
The showpiece is held every four years and the next tournament is next year in England.

Phenya said Pitso, Monaheng and Lebetsa, who have now gained experience and exposure outside the country, are excellent products to promote rugby in Lesotho.
Pitso also happens to be the team manager of the Lesotho men’s rugby side.

“When we go to schools with them, students fall into the sport because they want to be like them. Even Pitso’s title says a lot to students, they see growth in rugby,” he said.

Unfortunately, rugby, especially the women’s game, is hamstrung by a lack of finances and support.

As a result, Phenya said there are many tournaments and invitations Lesotho fails to honour because of no funds.

Phenya pleaded with Basotho and local companies to invest in their sport so that women’s rugby can grow and improve.

Lesotho is currently part of the Free State Women’s League that kicked off last month and will end early in May.

The national side played two games.

Lesotho beat Spartans 34-12 and lost 34-7 to Central University of Technology (CUT).

Relebohile Tšepe

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Seema speaks on good run



Lesotho legend Lehlohonolo Seema has spoken on Sekhukhune United’s impressive run in the DSTV Premiership since taking over the reins at the Polokwane-based outfit in December last year.
“Babina Noko”, as Sekhukhune are affectionately known, were in 12th place when its management appointed the former Likuena captain as its new coach last year, but the team has since ascended to third position.

Seema joined Sekhukhune from Polokwane City, who were then in sixth position but now find themselves in 10th position since the Lesotho mentor left them for their rivals from the same province.
Speaking exclusively to thepost following a run of five victories which includes a 2-1 win over former club Orlando Pirates and Tuesday’s 2-2 draw against Cape Town City, Seema attributed the impressive run to the hard work his team has been putting on the training ground.

“I’m not surprised by the way the players responded to my way of doing things since I took over the reins. On beating Pirates, it’s not even about Pirates, it’s all about collecting points,” Seema said.
“Beating a big side is always a bonus and giving yourself a chance to finish in a better position. There was nothing personal, but we are taking it one game at a time. We are happy as a club to collect the three points because competition is tight, and the margins are very close, and we just want to collect as many points as possible.

“Remember this team was playing in the Confederations Cup though it was not doing well in the league, but they have shown that they won games in the continent in countries like DRC to have made the group stages of the continental competition,” he said.

Seema believes being together in their camp has also worked wonders for his team to be the most inform team in the DSTV Premiership at this juncture.
They are now in third position behind defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns as well as another surprise package in Stellenbosch FC.

“There is no secret honestly in the form that we have been enjoying as a club, but just hard work on the training pitch, having a common goal, respecting each other, and listening to each other,” Seema said.

“We have remained humble on and off the field as a team, we have made it easy for players to work with us by asking questions on the training ground and we give them answers to come up with solutions for problems that we have as a team.

“Credit must go to the whole technical team, the analysts, fitness team, medical team because since I arrived here, we have had a very tough schedule and we don’t have a big squad, but they have managed it very well.

“The analysis team has been doing a magnificent job giving us everything we need on time to plan on our team as well as the opponents and our team has coped with all the challenges thrown at us,” he said.

Seema also opened up on Lesotho international, Teboho Letsema, who was registered by Sekhukhune in the January transfer window.

“Letsema is our player, we have signed him but could not register him because we already had five foreigners but because we could not miss out on such a talent, we had to get his signature,” Seema said.

“We managed to loan him out to Orbit, who are in the Motsepe Championship and competing. It’s good for him and he is a player to watch next season,” he said.

Mikia Kalati

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Lioli captain says job not done yet



Lioli captain Mafa Moremoholo insists the job “is not done” in the race to claim the Vodacom Premier League crown.

Last weekend was a game-changer in the title chase and Lioli are now firmly in the driver’s seat to lift the league trophy after results went their way in dramatic fashion.

The drama started last Saturday when recently crowned People’s Cup champions Matlama were stunned 3-0 by Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).

24 hours later, Lifofane held fellow title rivals Bantu to a surprise 1-1 draw and the weekend ended with Lioli five points clear at the top of the table after ‘Tse Nala’ overcame Liphakoe 1-0.

Although Lioli, with 56 points from 24 matches, have played a game more than Matlama (51 points) and Bantu (49 points), points in hand are better than those still to gain.

Furthermore, if Lioli win their remaining six matches, they will be crowned champions regardless of other results and that has uncorked joy in Teyateyaneng (TY) with some fans already planning festivities for when Lioli end their eight-year title drought.

List of champions since 2010:
2010 Matlama
2011 Lesotho Correctional Service
2012 Lesotho Correctional Service
2013 Lioli
2014 Bantu
2015 Lioli
2016 Lioli
2017 Bantu
2018 Bantu
2019 Matlama
2020 Bantu
2021-22 Matlama
2023 Bantu

Moremoholo however warned against any premature celebrations and insisted Lioli have not reached the levels the club’s players and coaches want to attain.
The stalwart defender said the gap the TY giants have established at the top means nothing because they still have six crucial games to play.

“As for being the champions of the league, I cannot comment on that because we are on a serious journey,” he said. “The title can be missed by an inch, so we do not want to praise ourselves now.”

Moremoholo pointed out that the league’s intensity has picked up in the second half of the season, and even though Lioli won 1-0 on Sunday, Liphakoe’s performance surprised him.
It was night and day from the first round clash in November when Lioli won 2-1, he said, this time Liphakoe were prepared and ready to fight.

It is going to be that way in every game for the remainder of the season because all teams want to improve their league position, Moremoholo added.

“Our games with Liphakoe are never easy because we have our own fight over our (similar) logos. We are birds of the same feather,” he said. “They approached us in a different way from the first leg, which surprised me. They gave us pressure and we had to fight. We still need to improve how we approach our games.”

As one of the leaders of the team, a lot of that responsibility will fall on Moremoholo.

So far, the skipper has led with aplomb and has been the epitome of consistency while marshalling a defence that has conceded just 13 goals in 24 games. Only LMPS (11 goals conceded in 24 games) have a better defensive record.

Moremoholo’s leadership has duly been recognised around the league and ‘Tse Nala’ coach Motheo Mohapi called him Lioli’s best player after their win over Liphakoe.
Mohapi said the defender’s efforts as captain and his willingness to work to lift his team has been key to their success.
Moremoholo preferred to praise his teammates, though.

“It is through the hard work of the team for someone to be recognised. I really appreciate my teammates for setting the spotlight on me to be recognised (by Mohapi),” he said.

The Lioli skipper added that the club’s targets extend beyond this season – they want to see ‘Tse Nala’ recognised in continental competitions in the next two to three years, and their focus is not on just winning the league.

For them to become a competitive fixture in CAF competitions, Lioli will need to continue their noticeable improvement under Mohapi.

Last season they finished eighth place in the league with 42 points, 26 points behind eventual champions Bantu. Lioli have already shattered that points total in Mohapi’s first season in charge and Moremoholo believes there is more room to grow.

He said the core of Lioli’s players are still young which gives them a chance to improve and reach their goal of future dominance while the presence of Mohapi as coach is another reason Moremoholo sees a bright future for the team.

“Most of our players are still young, they are early in their 20s, and they will hold the team for some years while they gain experience. I also appreciate (Mohapi) for being part of our team and holding our hands to return the dignity of the team,” he said.

The club’s collective efforts have manifested the return of Lioli fans to grounds this season and that vociferous 12th man, which was key to Lioli’s successful title-winning teams in the past, will again be crucial in their next game on Sunday against Lijabatho.

“Seeing supporters at our games lift our spirits and it gives us hope to win every game,” Moremoholo said.

“(The Lioli fans) should never give up on us because through their presence, we get motivated.”

Weekend fixtures:
Bantu vs Liphakoe
Manonyane vs Likila
Lifofane vs CCX
Lijabatho vs Lioli
Machokha vs LDF
Naughty Boys vs Matlama
LMPS vs Linare
ACE Maseru vs LCS

Relebohile Tšepe

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