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Top referee frozen out



MASERU– The sudden absence of one of Lesotho’s top referees, Retšelisitsoe Molise, remains an unexplained mystery in the Vodacom Premier League and has led many people to believe he has been suspended.
Molise, who is one Lesotho’s elite cluster of international referees, has not officiated in the elite league since April 2 in a game between Lijabatho and Swallows in Morija.

The game was marred by controversy because of an on-field incident involving Swallows goalkeeper Fusi Ranone. It is reported Ranone went into a tussle with a Lijabatho player for the ball and Molise judged Ranone’s challenge unfair. The referee blew the whistle in favour of Lijabatho.
Ranong protested Molise’s decision and got into the referee’s face and even shoved him while blurting out unspeakable words.

Ranone is the same goalkeeper who was involved in another unsavoury incident with Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) midfielder Tšepo Toloane in a league match at the end of January.
The incident sparked a prolonged fight from LDF after the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) suspended one of their players, Bonang Mohapi, for his involvement in the melee. Ranone has continued to play football with no repercussions for his unruly behaviour despite reports being submitted on the incidents while Molise has quietly been frozen out which affects his income and chances of being picked for international assignments.

He has not been assigned a single domestic game since. There was no sign of him in the Round of 26 which was played on April 8-9 and he was also not seen in the Round of 24 catch-up games which were played mid-week on April 12.

He was also a no-show in the Round of 27 games which were played on April 15, followed by another two-week absence during the People’s Cup.
The Lesotho Football Association’s Referee’s Coordinator, Mohau Sentšo, denied Molise had been suspended and said his absence was merely because those responsible for assigning match officials have not seen the need to assign him.

Sentšo said Molise will be back if those in charge decide to assign him.
Asked if it is not suspicious that Molise’s long absence comes after the game against Lijabatho, Sentšo said it may look that way, but he insisted that is not the case.
“Those responsible for assigning referees sit down every week to prepare referees’ assignments, depending on their performance and experience. If they pick referees and say their picks are enough, then some (referees) will not be there,” he said.

“Really, it’s been two weekends (that) they have not seen the need (to pick Molise). He is not the only one; Souru Phatšoane has also not been picked a lot. (Molise) will be back before the season ends if they decide to assign him,” he added.

Sentšo said the People’s Cup which was played over the past two weekends was only four games and that several officials were not picked for the competition.
While it is true several officials did not get a chance, a few of them were picked twice for the cup’s consecutive weekends in Mantšonyane and at Setsoto Stadium.

On Wednesday, thepost contacted Molise for comment. He refused to speak with the paper but confirmed he has not officiated since the game in Morija on April 2.
One league insider, who spoke with the paper on condition of anonymity, said Molise has been silently suspended and there is a chance he may not officiate in the Vodacom Premier League again this season.
The source said Molise has not been served with a suspension letter but he has been frozen out.

The source continued to say the freezing out of Molise does not come as a surprise as his no-nonsense attitude has very often ruffled the feathers of club bigwigs in the Vodacom Premier League, some of which are influential.
Amongst the decisions that Molise has made which angered some club executives is the time when he expelled former Bantu head coach Abram Mongoya from the bench in a league game against Lioli in January in Teyateyaneng.

Molise removed Mongoya because he could not produce his card in a pivotal game that finished 0-0.
It was in that game where Molise and his team of match officials were forced to run for their lives after being attacked by a mob of Bantu fans while they were undressing.

Earlier this season, reports broke out about Molise being suspended after an executive from a big Premier League club wrote a letter complaining about him.
It is said that the Referees Committee fought against the suspension and it never happened.

By the time of writing, assignments for this weekend’s Vodacom Premier League had been made but its unclear if Molise has been assigned a game.

Premier League fixtures
Sunday (15:00)
Bantu vs. CCX (DIFA Mohale’s Hoek)
Liphakoe vs. LMPS (LCS Ground, 13:00)
Lijabatho vs. LCS (Morija, 15:00)
Swallows vs. Lifofane (Morija, 13:00)
Machokha vs. Manonyane (LCS Ground, 15:00)
Linare vs. Galaxy (DIFA Leribe)
LDF vs. Naughty Boys (Ratjomose)
Lioli vs. Matlama (Teyateyaneng)
Nedbank 8
Mzamane vs. Quthing LMPS (12:00)
ACE Maseru vs. LU FC (14:30)
Majantja vs. Sehenehene (12:00)
Likhopo vs. Lilemela (14:00)

WSL Fixtures Sunday
Basetsana vs. Rovers (Teyateyaneng, 10:00)
Berea Ladies vs. Bantu Ladies (Teyateyaneng, 12:00)
LUCT vs. Sky Battalion (Majametalana, 10:00)
FC Stoko vs. Thaba-Tseka Ladies (Mejametalana, 12:00)
LDF Ladies vs. Kick4Life (Mejametalana, 14:00)

Tlalane 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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