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Topsy-turvy battle at the bottom



MASERU-The relegation battle has rarely been this interesting.
With the second round of the Econet Premier League season underway, there are three teams at the foot of the table fighting tooth and nail to avoid the top-flight’s two tickets down to the A-Division.
Majantja, Swallows and Galaxy are the three teams at risk and only one will survive the drop.

Galaxy head coach Thabang Busa hopes and believes his side will be the one to avoid the axe at the end of the season.
Despite the newly-promoted Maputsoe outfit being rooted to the bottom of the league, they are only two points behind Majantja who are in 12th place and occupy the coveted final spot of safety.
Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS), Sefotha-fotha and Linare are ninth, 10th and 11th respectively on the log with 16 points each; they are a bit further off, but Busa insists if Galaxy can collect at least six points from their remaining January schedule it will dramatically change their fortunes.

Those points would be a welcome relief for a Galaxy side that has plummeted after an encouraging start to the season which saw Busa’s as high as 10th place after the first two months of the campaign.
Galaxy, however, have lost their last five matches and their last win came on November 11 – a 2-0 victory over relegation rivals Swallows.
The causes for their demise originate both on and off the field.

On the field, Galaxy have struggled to close out games in what is their first-ever season in Lesotho’s top-flight.
Each of their past five defeats have been by just one goal. In fact, the only team that has managed to beat Galaxy by a two-goal margin is log leaders Lesotho Correctional Service and that was back in the second week of the season, a 3-1 loss on September 22.

Off the field, Galaxy have also been hampered by reported financial disagreements which caused the technical staff to miss the team’s last two league games, both 1-0 losses to high-flying Kick4Life and Lesotho Defence Force.
Busa said in order for Galaxy climb out of their predicament, the club needs to work together.
“We are struggling and we have been experiencing problems since December. The games against Kick4Life and Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) we played without a technical team. However (on Monday) we started training as a team and we have been working hard,” Busa said.

“We are building oneness in the team and that is the only way we can get out of this situation,” he added.
Busa said Galaxy found themselves in a similarly difficult situation during the 2015/16 season while in the A-Division but they managed to claw their way out.
He called for his side to draw motivation from that experience and fight to stay in the premier league even though the odds are against them.

“We have fought relegation before and that season (2015/16) it’s Maduma that went down and we stayed in the A-Division,” Busa said.
“The following season we were challenging for the top spot but we finished in second place so we have been in this situation before and I am confident we will get out because even if you look at the goals conceded, we have conceded less than the teams above us.

“All we have to do is to win our games. If we can get six points (in our coming games) we will climb up the table,” he said, adding that Galaxy will be looking to bring in new faces to bolster the squad before the close of the January transfer window.
Busa has been vocal about his desire to change people’s perception of so-called small teams by retaining Galaxy’s spot in the Econet premiership.

If the Maputsoe outfit do succeed in maintaining their status it will be a huge achievement for the coach and his team because newly-promoted teams normally tend to struggle in the top-flight before eventually going back to the A-Division.
To survive, though, Galaxy have a mountain to climb.

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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