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We are ready, says Mahlaha



Maseru – There are only two weeks left until the Vodacom Premier League roars back to life and, as with every season, the 2017/18 campaign presents different challenges to the various teams.
In preparation, teams and their scouts have been working tirelessly to recruit new players, and strengthen their weaknesses while also releasing players they deem surplus to requirements.One club where stakes are always high is Lioli.

Champions in 2015 and 2016, ‘Tse Nala’ agonisingly missed out on the league title to Bantu last season and they enter the 2017/18 season determined to reclaim the championship.
Most notable amongst Lioli’s moves so far is the addition of Spaniard Antonio Flores as technical director.
However, there could also be departures with star winger Tumelo Khutlang still expected to move to South African side Mthatha Bucks.
With just 17 days until Lioli begin their league campaign against Sundawana, ‘Tse Nala’ coach Halemakale Mahlaha sat down with thepost’s sports reporter, Lucia Phahla, to outline his plans for the season and how the Teyateyaneng giants plan to win every trophy on offer.

thepost: What can be expected from Lioli this season? What will be your focus?
Our focus is to win all trophies available this season. The target I have been given by management is to win two trophies and among the two there should be a league title. However, personally, I want to win all of them (league, Independence Cup and Lesotho National Insurance Group Top 8). When I sit down and analyse our team, I think it is possible to win every trophy and we are determined to achieve that.

What is Antonio Flores bringing to Lioli?
He has a lot of knowledge that can help us improve more and for the better. When we combine what he has and what we have, it gives us something valuable. What gives us an even bigger advantage is that he is from a country (Spain) where football is professional and we need that in our premier league.

What are some of the lessons you can take from last season going into the new campaign?
We have to work together as a team and be more committed. We need to make sure everyone is ready to compete so that we have enough squad rotation in order to make sure fatigue doesn’t catch up with us like it did last year. (Last season) after we won the (LNIG) Top 8 we played a league fixture immediately afterwards and we had people who did not have enough game-time, so we had to use the same players that were in the final and it did not work out for us. If we can rotate the squad and make sure everyone is on the same level I think it will help us a lot.

Despite not winning the league, Lioli still finished with two trophies last season. What has been the key to the progress since you took over?
If you look at last year’s record, we didn’t win any of our finals through penalty shootouts and we were contenders until the last minute in the league. We scored 49 goals (in the league). One thing that makes me happy is seeing teams from outside the country being interested in my players. It makes me happy that whatever I am giving to the players is helping them to improve personally. Whatever it is, I hope everyone in the team can catch it and then I think we can have a highly competitive team.

Some sections of Lioli supporters were not happy about losing the title to Bantu. To Lioli supporters what does success look like?
Honestly, I don’t know. Everywhere where people are working, people always differ in opinion and people think differently. People do have their favourites as well. Personally, I know there are some (supporters) that are not happy for their own reasons which I don’t know; but I also have my own theory as to why they are not happy.
For example, some of them have unlimited friendship with the players and if their (favourite) player is not playing then they will start with ‘this person is wrong, and this and that’. But, generally in life you cannot be loved by everyone – you are not money.

What would you say is success to those fans?
I am not sure. I have not had time to talk to them. Perhaps it would help if we had a platform where we can talk and see what makes them happy and doesn’t because for the past seven years or more we have managed to beat Bantu and very convincingly. So I am not really sure.
Are there any new players in the team, how are they adapting to Lioli?
Yes, they are here, even though they haven’t all arrived. I think by the time the registration period closes (at the end of August) they will all be here. The new players are adapting well. If you watched our game this past weekend (at the Alliance Winter Challenge) there was a small boy from our development (Retšelisitsoe Moepa). He is not even 20 (years old) but he has adapted well to the team.

Who are some of the players leaving during this transfer window?
So far I know only about Tumelo Khutlang and Liteboho Mokhehle who went to trials at Mthatha Bush Bucks and in Swaziland. I don’t know about any new developments, I haven’t communicated with them. But Makhopo (Khutlang) was here this weekend. As for Liteboho, he is still in Swaziland.

If they are successful how is their departure going to affect your plans?
We will have to adjust according to the material we have because the way Makhopo was playing was unique (and) Liteboho is a good goalkeeper. For a team to succeed it needs quality players, but we just have to adjust.

Who do you anticipate will be your biggest challengers in the upcoming season?
The biggest challenge will be the big clubs Bantu and Matlama because they are also preparing and they are trying to buy quality players that can improve their squads. Let me make an example with Matlama. Let’s say Phafa (Tšosane) is not available, they are trying to avoid a situation where they have a problem when it comes to how to replace him. Even small teams are also preparing to work hard so that they can be where we are. But we have to plan differently according to who we play on a week by week basis.

Have you and the players focused on anything specific in preparation for the new season?
Yes. Our team plays a passing game and that’s what we have been working on – to make sure we don’t change our style but instead make sure we add more speed to it. We are 90 or 95 percent ready for the new season. There are a few things we are still working on like our finishing so that we can convert our chances better next season.

Staff Reporter

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Dicing with death



MASERU – spinning is a motorsport that originates in South Africa.


The pastime started in the 1980s in the country’s townships and was used mainly by gangsters as a way to show-off their stolen cars.


In the subsequent years, the sport has grown in popularity in South Africa’s neighbouring country and it has made its way to Lesotho.


Although spinning competitions are not held regularly in Lesotho, they always come with a huge fanfare and hundreds of supporters normally flock to its venues to watch drivers spinning, drifting and doing stunts.


It is a loud and mostly dangerous sport that has been labelled as the world’s most reckless sport.


It’s not just any car that is used in spinning, there are special cars that favourties for entertaining crowds.


The BMW 3-series famously known as Gusheshe owing to the brusque sound its engine makes are designed for the spin. Spinning enthusiasts say that BMW 3-series cars can be manipulated and their engines maintained easily.


Lately other people have started to opt for the V8 Toyota which they sport with BMW wheels.


In Lesotho, the shows are held at various places, including the Masianokeng filling station in Maseru. In 2021, Seisa Mohapi left the crowd yearning for more thrills, stunts and spins at Makoanyane Barracks and he emerged as a local favourite.


He has since gone on to make a career out of car spinning and because of the lack of competitions in Lesotho, Mohapi has to travel outside very often to compete.


Today, Mohapi, who is one the most famous spinners in Lesotho, is preparing for the Battle of the Nations competition to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 29.


He is not a newbie to the competition. Last year he was the only Mosotho competing against drivers from the host country, Eswatini and Botswana.


One fascinating fact about Mohapi is that he was not into spinning cars until a friend urged him to join the sport because of his fast driving. Mohapi insists, however, that when he is driving on the road he is not as fast as he is on the track.


He may now be a well-recognised spinner, but it was a difficult road. Getting invitations to South African competitions was mission impossible in the beginning because the sport was not recognised in Lesotho.


The best Mohapi managed was competitions in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu, before he eventually started getting invites to big events.


In 2018, he received his first invitation to attend big spinning events in Villiersdorp, Western Cape, and now the rest is history. He has travelled to several countries including Eswatini and Botswana.


Mohapi remembers: “(My friend) gave me an idea that you already have speed, if you can spin, you can do it well. From there I started spinning on the streets until we started taking it seriously, (we are) hosting events and joining spinning groups.”


When Mohapi is not throttling cars on weekends, during the week he has an office job at the Ministry of Social Development. He says his routine is between his job and spinning.


It is a costly passion.


Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports in the world because it requires fully operational engines and such are costly. Mohapi has no sponsor, he bears all the costs when it comes to his car. Luckily for Mohapi, he can repair cars which means the costs of fixing have not weighed as heavily on him as they otherwise would have.


“Even though spinning is a very expensive sport, I am still fully self-sponsored and it does not cost much on my pocket because I know how to repair cars. So, this is different to someone who waits on engineers when their cars crash,” Mohapi says.


“Because these cars are being used heavily, they kill engines a lot. The cheapest engines range from M3 000 to M4 000 so if you are buying them regularly it becomes expensive. The (engine) I am using is about M18 000 to M20 000 – I am hoping spinning will be recognised as a growing sport,” he continues.


In spinning contests, it is the host’s responsibility to provide participants with tyres, while the participants should make sure that their rims are fit for the performance. Many drivers have earned themselves a reputation with drifting, but that is not the case with Mohapi.


He enjoys spinning and doing stunts most and that has become his trademark.


“For the spin to be performed best, it requires skills,” Mohapi says.


“Some can draw the interest of the audience and some just drift and confuse the audience. When the audience cannot capture what you are doing, they keep themselves busy by buying refreshments,” he adds.


There is a difference between spinning and drifting. Spinning which is more popular is when drivers lock their cars into a spin and screech tyres and make clouds of smoke. They then climb out of the car to perform stunts while spinning.


Meanwhile, the internet defines drifting as a driving technique where the driver intentionally over-steers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.


The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. For example, if the car is turning left, the wheels are pointed right or vice versa.


Mohapi says spinning is all about entertainment, no one can be considered a winner, the only way to know if you did well is by the crowd’s reaction to your performance. South Africa is now preparing to host bigger spinning events in which there will be prize money given to participants who impress, and he says he is looking forward to it.


“All I can say is Basotho should support spin because their kids love it,” Mohapi enthuses.


“Their kids must know there is someone in Lesotho who spins and his name is Seisa. At these events there are really a lot of kids, it brings happiness to them.”

Relebohile Tšepe

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Bereng raring to go



MASERU – Likuena star midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng says it’s good for Likuena to go in the match against star-studded Zambia as underdogs despite winning the last encounter between the two countries.


The two southern African countries will face-off in back-to-back matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium on March 23 and 26 respectively.


Motebang Sera was the hero in the last match at the COSAFA Cup beating Kennedy Mweene twice to become Likuena’s all time leading goal-scorer in the regional tournament with six goals.


Bereng, who now plays his football for Eswatini giants, Mbabane Highlanders, makes a return to the Likuena squad since last year’s goalless draw against Ivory Coast, where he was an unused substitute.


“Look, it will be a totally different ball game to the one when we last played at the COSAFA Cup and they also know that it’s not going to be a walk in the park for them,” the midfielder said.


“We just have to approach the game with the same mindset we had against them two years ago in Port Elizabeth, which was self-belief and playing to our strength.”


Bereng, who had a long career playing in South Africa for the likes of Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Black Leopards, admitted that Zambia are favourite on paper going into the two matches, but is adamant they can cause an upset like they did in holding star-studded Ivory Coast to a goalless draw.


“Of course, on paper they are favourites because they have a lot of players playing abroad such as Patson Daka of Leicester City, but like I said, self-belief is very important at this level of football,” Bereng said.


“I think for me it’s very good to be labelled underdogs, it takes the pressure away from us and gives us room to surprise them.


“They are going to be to tough games, but we have been there before and we know what we have to do to improve our position if we are to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.


Likuena will host Eswatini in a training match this Thursday as both countries fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 2023 Afcon matches.


Mikia Kalati

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Free show for football fans



MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has opened its gates to Basotho who want to watch the national team Likuena today. Lesotho hosts Eswatini this afternoon at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in their last friendly match before they fly to Zambia.

This training match is part of Likuena’s preparation for the back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Zambia in two weeks’ time.

Three weeks ago, Lesotho coach Veselin Jelusic and his charges travelled to Malawi for a friendly match which ended with a 1-1. At the time the Serbian coach said he wished for more games and today’s match will surely come in handy as it will help him to fine-tune mistakes Likuena made against Malawi.

The first leg match of the AFCON qualifier against Zambia will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on March 23, with the return leg set for Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on March 26th. Lesotho needs to win at least one of the two games to stand any chance of qualifying.

After two AFCON qualifying games, Likuena are bottom of Group H which also includes Comoros and Ivory Coast.

Like Likuena, Eswatini is also preparing to take on Cape Verde in their AFCON qualifying campaigns on March 24 and 28 respectively.

LEFA has invited Basotho to come and watch their team free of charge as this could be their last chance to watch Likuena on their home soil until Setsoto Stadium is upgraded to meet international standards.

Because of the unavailability of the national stadium Likuena have been forced to play their home matches in South Africa.

Likuena lost 2-0 away to Comoros in their opener but played to a spirited 0-0 draw with giants Ivory Coast at ‘home’. Both games were played last June.

Two of Likuena’s foreign based players have already joined up with the team. Lead striker Motebang Sera, who is still recovering from a minor injury that side-lined him for his South African premiership club Royal AM, is with the team. He missed his team’s 5-1 clobbering by Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Tšoarelo Bereng, who is also based across the border, is another one that is now in camp with Likuena.

Richards Bay striker Katleho Makateng is yet to link up with the team, he is expected to be part of the Richards Bay squad that will take on TS Galaxy in the DSTV Premiership in Mpumalanga on Sunday. He will be allowed to join Likuena after and is expected to be a key figure against Zambia.

Tlalane Phahla

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