Shoes: the  Lioli legend

Shoes: the Lioli legend

MASERU-If you mention the name Mosholi Mokhothu to any Lioli fan their face lights up.
The most successful coach in the club’s history, Mokhothu’s name brings joy and pride to ‘Tse Nala’ fans and reminds them of when they were the dominant force in local football.

In two separate spells with the club, Mokhothu brought four league titles, two Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 trophies and one Independence Cup to Teyateyaneng.

However, despite his successes, his relationship with the club has never been a smooth one.
On Monday, Mokhothu invited thepost to his home in Ha Faso and he opened up about his time with Lioli a wide ranging interview.
Although Mokhothu’s coaching success lies mostly with Lioli, he won two league titles with Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) in 2011 and 2012, making him the only active coach to win top-flight championships with two clubs.

‘Shoes’, as Mokhothu is known in football circles, won his first league title with Lioli in 2009, however, he said the ‘Tse Nala’ side he coached between 2013 and 2016 was his best group, a team that dominated local football not just with accolades but with beautiful football.
He said it was a side full of top-class players boasting big characters.
Mokhothu said he formed a strong bond with the squad and they produced the goods for him.
The secret to coaching good players, he said, is having a strong personality and being “very clear” as a coach when approaching them, otherwise “they will take control of you.”
In 2016, Mokhothu stepped down from his position as Lioli coach and was replaced by Halemakale Mahlaha.
In his sit-down with thepost Mokhothu described how Lioli management got rid of him, then brought him back to make him a technical director to Mahlaha and later an assistant coach. He talked about how he got sacked again before coming back into the technical team with Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, only to be sacked once more.
“When I was with Mahlaha we won two cups but at the end of the (2015/16) season then we saw the management’s true colours and they told us that they said they want two cups but that should include the league,” Mokhothu said.
“The following season things started well, we had just won three games in a row and I got a letter from Lioli saying they are letting me go and I didn’t understand because we finished second (the previous season) and won two cups but now they were terminating my contract,” he said.
“Lioli is the team I truly love, it is where I learnt a lot, but I don’t want to lie, Lioli is one of the teams that I worked with but I am not satisfied with how they approach things,” Mokhothu said.
“When they feel they want to get rid of you, they just get rid of you. Maybe it’s because they think you are an employee so when so you are an employee, the employer forgets they hired you because of good things you did. They think they hired you because they were giving you something, so when they no longer want to give you that they just get rid of you.” he said
“At the end of that season where the team really performed badly, I was preparing the team for the new season, no one told me I have been sacked again, and I am arranging things on the other side while they are also arranging a new coach. When the season was about to start they gave me a letter and all their letters are not nice, if you can see all of them, they are not nice. (I am) just someone with a big heart, if you don’t have one you may not handle such letters, they would destroy you,” he said.
Mokhothu has never been one to claim all the successes as his. He credits the players and says with without them it isn’t possible.
He explains that with players one has to get it right. He says it is important to let the players know that, as the coach, his job is to just show them the way, but the hard work is done by them and they do that on the field.

He continued that is important to identify every area of the team and know what sort of players one is coaching which includes their character and personality. It is to know how to approach each individual, allowing them to make decisions right or wrong and setting an example, engaging with players at all time.
How Mokhothu managed a big personality like Tšoanelo Koetle is an interesting one.
“If you are not a father figure you cannot control Litšoane, he is someone who just talks however he wants to, when he is on the field he can come to you as coach say ‘this person is making us lose’ pointing at another player,” Mokhothu said.

“Even you as a coach he will come to you and say ‘you brought him in, why?’. So when you are watching from outside you ask yourself what kind of person is he.”
“So I gave him the way we are going to work between me and him because I realised he was making other players very angry. So, I told the other players that you are 10 on the field so find a way to beat Litšoane, and then they understood what kind of person he is,” he said.

“He wanted the team to play the way he wanted, even me he would argue with me but would eventually do what I tell him to do because he knows and loves football and has a high understanding of the game but doesn’t know when to help, that’s when you come in as a coach you have to manage him.”

“His father plays a big role in who he is, if you tell his father what Litšoane is doing he will sit down with him, but you have to know how to manage players,” he said.
“When I was arriving at Lioli I was not aware they were drinking in camp but when I realised they do and I also became aware that they are actually at their best when they are drunk, I made sure we had a team, so if one person is drunk those who will be playing with him say in the midfield, they have to make sure that player is not exposed, they have to keep him on guard. In some clubs they rat each other out and it makes an unstable team. We must also remember we are not professional here at home and you can’t control the way they live,” he continued.

Mokhothu, who is currently with Manonyane in the A-Division, he says when he first went into the first division he felt he was taking a step down but has now settled and is enjoying life in the A-Division. He insists that is where the toughest football is and has had to adjust his way of playing to suit the division; he says he is confident the club will gain the promotion to the Premier League this season.

Speaking of the coronavirus pandemic, Mokhothu said it is his wish to get back to the field and enjoy the game again. He said the postponed football season has affected the coaches and the players so much people are now breaking the law by playing football even though is banned.

Tlalane Phahla

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