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The same old nonsense



MASERU – Gutless, spineless and boring is what Likuena’s performance was on Tuesday against Uganda at Setsoto Stadium in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.
Lesotho was second to Uganda in every facet of the game.
There was nothing we could do better than the visitors, which is actually infuriating.

Right now there doesn’t seem to be anything we are good at; even our passing was poor and Uganda was far superior in possession.
Despite being the away team, the visiting Cranes knew exactly what they wanted and forced us to play like an away team in our own stadium.

I spoke to a few fans at the stadium after the game and all were saying the same thing – they want succession plans and they want improved infrastructure.
Others were also demanding changes to the Likuena technical team saying a lot of players have been unfairly left out of the national squad while some players do not deserve to be in the team.
The truth is a coach will never satisfy everybody, there will always be criticism, there will always be questions of ‘why did you call so and so?’ and ‘why is so and so not in the team?’
It is normal in football, it happens everywhere and it is results that shut all of that moaning. But you cannot blame the fans for asking these questions when the national team is underperforming like it is right now.

Coach Moses Maliehe is the face of the team so he is an easy target. However, is there any use in recycling coaches when there are no structures in place for continuity?
Unlike other countries we have no continuity plans. There are also many other countries struggling financially as we are, but their football is improving and is now much better than ours.
Botswana’s league, for example, is growing far better than our league and whenever we meet Botswana in a competitive match, we struggle.

It is telling that not so long ago Uganda faced similar problems of finances but in 2017 they ended their 39-year wait to qualify for the AFCON and they are on the verge of yet another appearance while Lesotho may not even get a win in this group which also includes Tanzania and Cape Verde.

After their campaign in the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, Uganda’s head coach at the time, Milutin Sredojevic of Serbia who is now in charge of Orlando Pirates in South Africa, tendered his resignation citing a breach of contract by the Uganda football federation.

The coach in charge of Uganda, Frenchman Sebastian Desabre, is new but he is taking the Cranes back to the AFCON for their second successive appearance.
We have changed coaches over and over again but there is no change.
There is no change in the way we play football; there is no change in the way football is run by the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).
When you watch Likuena you just realise just how far behind we are compared to other countries. Everything in football counts: how you pass the ball, how you position yourself, the runs you make, the free-kicks – everything counts.

With the way things are going it doesn’t look as though we are a team that is going to make history anytime soon.
On Tuesday, Madagascar sealed qualification to the AFCON for the first time in their history and it is worth remembering that we beat them in the COSAFA Cup in June to claim a bronze medal at the regional showpiece.

By the way, the COSAFA Cup is the only tournament we participate in. Maybe that is because we don’t have to go through a qualification process to be there – we probably wouldn’t make it if we had to qualify.

There is no success in the COSAFA Cup, we literally learn nothing new we don’t know about our team because we use the same side that plays in the qualifiers for the World Cup, AFCON and African Nations Championship (CHAN) and they just never perform.

Is it time for the powers that be to stop talking about making football a profession in the country and start making it happen.
You have to wonder how they feel when they watch Likuena get outplayed in every game.

Is it time to invest in the sport that we all love or we should just admit we are not a football nation?
Should we just admit we love the game but don’t have what it takes to succeed at it?

Luciah 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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