Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Swallows to make debut in pre-season Alliance Winter Challenge

Newly-promoted Swallows are on the up and up...

Newly-promoted Swallows will get an early chance to showcase their skills on the national stage when they take part in this year’s Alliance Winter Challenge.

In April the Mazenod side won promotion to next season’s Econet Premier League after winning the A-Division South Stream and a month later Maswai-swai completed a first division double by claiming the A-Division Top 8 title.

Their success has earned Swallows their first invite to the pre-season Winter Challenge tournament in July which is sponsored by insurance company, Alliance Insurance.

The competition was launched in 2015 is contested by the three Premiership clubs sponsored by Alliance – namely Matlama, Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) – as well as a fourth invitee.

In 2015’s debut competition it was Liphakoe the guest team; in 2016 it was Sundawana while last year it was eventual league winners Bantu who completed the tournament’s quartet.

Maswai-swai public relations officer Lekoala Ralekoala said Swallows are excited to be part of the showpiece for the first time and are determined to prove themselves against their stellar opponents.

“As a new team in the (Econet) Premier League we are honoured to be invited for such a big tournament and even though we are going to face big teams, we are not only going there to participate but to compete,” Ralekoala said.

Since its introduction the Alliance Winter Challenge has grown into the country’s flagship pre-season football tournament. Ralekoala said Swallows hope the competition will give them the exposure to attract sponsors to help the club in what will be their first time in the Premier League since 2011.

“We know it will not be easy to win the cup but if we can play good football then we can increase our chances of attracting sponsors into the team,” Ralekoala said.

LCS will enter the 2018 Alliance Winter Challenge as two-time defending champions after winning the title last year and in 2016. Last year Masheshena beat Matlama 1-0 in the final.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Taekwondo Lesotho star Marumo Moloisane makes bright start to life in Germany

Moloisane has made a promising start to his quest for Tokyo 2020 qualification...

Lesotho taekwondo star Marumo Moloisane is looking forward to the future after winning bronze at last month’s 2018 Austrian Open Tournament.

Moloisane, who is based in Germany, finished third in the 58 kilogram competition at the championships held in Innsbruck, Austria to jump-start his dreams of qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

The 24 years old Khubetsoana born fighter is, of course, part of the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity programme which assists elite athletes selected by their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in their preparations and qualification for Olympic Games.

Moloisane was one of six athletes chosen by the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) last year to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.

Thanks to the scholarship, he is training at the renowned TCC Friedrichshafen High-Performance Training Centre in Germany and will be based there until 2020.

Olympic athletes Mosito Lehata and Tšepang Sello are also part of the Olympic Solidarity programme and are based at the University of the Free State Sports Science Institute (FSSSI) where they are rubbing shoulders with South African star Wade van Niekerk who is the world 400 metres champion.

The other athletes in the programme are Lerato Sechele (athletics), Moroke Mokhotho (boxing) and Tumelo Makae (cycling) although all three are under domestic placement and are training in Lesotho.

Moloisane at the TCC Centre in Germany
Moloisane’s success comes months after he started his Germany camp in December and it is a promising sign.

He narrowly missed the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil and expressed determination to avoid the same fate in 2020.

Moloisane said being based abroad will help.

“Being outside the country helps me compete regularly against players from different countries so there is no doubt that my international exposure will grow,” Moloisane said.

“Germany is a great place for my career because it produces the best taekwondo athletes,” he added. “Training outside the country is also preferable because when you are at home (in Lesotho) it is not easy to attend (international) tournaments.”

Also important: competing at international events such as the Austrian Open Tournament will boost Moloisane’s ranking points.

Those points will come in handy when World Taekwondo makes its final cut in 2020 for the 60 male fighters that will qualify for the taekwondo tournament at the Tokyo Olympics.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Lesotho claims bronze at 2018 COSAFA Cup

Nkoto Masoabi (left) celebrates his winner against Madagascar with Hlompho Kalake...

An early goal from Kick4Life striker Nkoto Masoabi handed Lesotho a 1-0 victory over Madagascar at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday evening and a first-ever bronze medal for Likuena at the COSAFA Cup.

Likuena had previously won silver at the COSAFA Cup when they lost the 2000 final to Zimbabwe but, apart from that, this is the team’s best showing at the regional showpiece.

For Madagascar it was a sixth fixture in 13 days and they battled to hit the heights of previous games in the tournament but did have chances to get something from the game.

Lesotho hit the front after an early period of pressure when Masoabi rifled the ball into the roof of the net from close-range after Madagascar hesitated in clearing the ball.

The first half in Polokwane saw few chances with the best for Madagascar falling to Rabeson Fetraniaina who got a clear sight of goal but put his low shot wide with Lesotho goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi at his mercy.

Jaotombo Bourahim was then presented with a shooting chance early in the second period, but his low effort was straight at the keeper, and he later fired wide when well-placed.

At the other end, Lesotho midfielder Hlompho Kalake flashed a vicious shot inches wide while Litšepe Marabe was denied by a good stop from Malagasy goalkeeper Jean Dieu Randrianasolo.

Likuena were able to close out the final minutes and ensure that they went through their three games at the 2018 COSAFA Cup without conceding a goal. 

Earlier in the day hosts South Africa wrapped up the Plate final with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Botswana.

A sixth game in 12 days was always going to be a tough ask for the Zebras and so it proved as South Africa dominated the game.

South Africa hit the front after Botswana could only half-clear a corner and when the ball came back to Aubrey Modiba, his left-footed cross was perfect for Motjeka Madisha to steer his header past a stranded Masule on 39 minutes for his first international goal.

It was 2-0 to South Africa with 12 minutes remaining as a swift break saw Siphesihle Ndlovu rampage down the right-hand side having beaten the offside trap and his square-ball was easily tapped home by Modiba for his second goal in as many matches.

And the home side grabbed another late on as Lebohang Maboe raced clear and rounded the goalkeeper to score his third of the competition.

Saturday will see the completion of the tournament as Zambia take on Zimbabwe in the final for the fourth time in the last six COSAFA Cups.

Both the Warriors and Chipolopolo are chasing the R500 000 first prize while the runners-up will receive R250 000.

Hlompho Kalake (right) was influential again for Lesotho...
Lesotho claimed R150 000 for finishing third while Madagascar took over R125 000 for their fourth-place.

South Africa picked up R100 000 for winning the Plate competition which represents fifth place.

Friday’s COSAFA Cup Results:
Plate Final:
South Africa (1) 3 (Motjeka Madisha 39’, Aubrey Modiba 78’, Lebohang Maboe 89’)
Botswana (0) 0

Cup Third Place Playoff:
Madagascar (0) 0
Lesotho (1) 1 (Masoabi Nkoto 10’)

Tournament Stats:
Matches played: 22
Goals scored: 42
Biggest victory: Botswana 6-0 Mauritius (Group B, June 1)
Most goals in a game: 6 - Botswana 6-0 Mauritius (Group B, June 1)

Top Goalscorers:
5 goals – Onkabetse Makgantai (Botswana)
4 goals – Luis Miquissone (Mozambique)
3 goals – Kabelo Seakanyeng (Botswana), Lebohang Maboe (South Africa)
2 goals – Joatombo Bourahim (Madagascar), Jeitoso (Mozambique), Aubrey Modiba (South Africa)
1 goal – Kaporal (Angola), Mohamed M’changama (Comoros Islands), Andriamirado Andrianarimanana, Tokifandresena Andriamanjato (both Madagascar), Precious Sambani (Malawi), Damien Balisson (Mauritius), Leeroy Coralie, Eric Miellie, Elijah Tamboo (all Seychelles), Karabo Phiri, Thatayaone Kgamanyane, Tshepo Maikano, Gape Mohutsiwa (all Botswana), Motebang Sera, Masoabi Nkoto (both Lesotho), Evans Rusike (Zimbabwe), Motjeka Madisha, Siyanda Xulu (both South Africa), Deon Hotto (Namibia), Lazarous Kambole (Zambia)

Friday, May 25, 2018

2018 COSAFA Cup gets underway on Sunday

Lesotho starts it 2018 COSAFA Cup in the quarterfinals against
Southern Africa’s national teams will converge on Polokwane in the north of South Africa over the next two weeks to decide this year’s COSAFA Cup champion.

In total 14 countries will battle it out at the regional championship which is again expected to be a tightly contested affair.  

Zimbabwe, who came through a gruelling schedule last year to win the tournament for a record fifth time, begin the defence of their title in the quarterfinals and are expected to be challenged closely by hosts South Africa and Zambia, who have both won the COSAFA Cup on four previous occasions.

The COSAFA Cup starts with eight teams divided into two groups for the opening week of competition with the two group winners then advancing to the knockout stage where they are joined by the top six ranked nations.  

The tournament will kick-off on Sunday with a Group A clash between Madagascar and Mozambique, who have both threatened to upset the odds at recent tournaments, before an island derby between the Comoros Islands and Seychelles.

Angola, who have won the competitions three times, head a strong field in Group B where they must get past Botswana and Malawi, both previous runners-ups, and Mauritius.

The schedule is taxing one for the eight first round competitors who play a game every second day with only the group winner advancing.
The tournament starts on Sunday with a clash between Mozambique
and Madagascar
There are two matches scheduled for every day from Sunday through to next Friday in the first round with the games played at both the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in the centre of Polokwane and the Seshego Stadium, on the outskirts of the city.

The winner of Group A has been drawn against South Africa in the quarter-finals on next week Sunday (June 3) while Group B’s winner will take on Zimbabwe later on the same day.   Before that the first two quarterfinals will take place next Saturday (June 2). They will see Zambia face the 2015 winners Namibia followed by Lesotho taking on Swaziland.

It is the first time in 10 years that all 14-member nations are competing as the Comoros return to the field for the first time in 2008.

“Looking at the squads selected, this promises to be a very tough competition,” said Timothy Shongwe, COSAFA’s chairman of competitions.

“The countries are all coming with top teams and it is difficult to see who is going to come out on top.”

Friday, May 18, 2018

Moses Maliehe names Lesotho squad for 2018 COSAFA Cup

Basia Makepe (left) returns to the Likuena squad after two years...
Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe has named an experienced squad for the upcoming 2018 COSAFA Cup to be held in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27 to June 9.

Maliehe’s 22-man squad includes Polish based Luciano Matsoso and Tshwarelo Bereng who was previously on the books of Chippa United in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The two players will be playing at the regional tournament for the first time. Bereng earned his first cap for Lesotho in an international friendly against Namibia in March.

Maliehe has also recalled experienced centrebacks Nkau Lerotholi and Basia Makepe. The LMPS pair returns to the national team for the first time in two years after a self-imposed exile from international football.

The duo will bring valuable experience. Lerotholi captained Likuena at the 2015 edition of the COSAFA Cup and was a member of the Leslie Notši led side that reached the semi-finals in 2013 in Zambia.

Makepe, on the other hand, captained Lesotho at the 2016 tournament in Namibia where Maliehe made his debut as Lesotho coach on a caretaker basis and took the team to the quarterfinals.

Maliehe, however, will not be able to call on the services of Cambodian based attacker Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho, after his club Phnom Penh Crown refused to release him for the regional showpiece.

“We have all the players that we had planned to have in the team apart from Tšotleho which is obviously a disappointment for us,” Maliehe said.

“His team was not willing to release him for the competition as it does not fall under the FIFA dates and we have made peace with that.”

Maliehe said he is looking to have continuity with his squad with the COSAFA Cup giving Likuena a chance to prepare for their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Cape Verde in September.

Maliehe added: “We will not be able to have friendly matches between the time we finish with the tournament and September as most of the players would be having their pre-season with their clubs.

Nkau Lerotholi (left) also returns...
“But we will go to the tournament and fight with what we have because the intention is to at least get to the final based on how well we have done in the previous two competitions.

“There are a number of players that will be playing at the tournament for the first time and it’s a chance for them to show what they can do going forward after a good season at club level,” he said.

There are younger faces in the squad with the in-form likes of Lebajoa Mosehlenyane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane and Monaheng Ramalefane included.

Mosehlenyane has been rewarded for excellent form for since joining Matlama from Bantu in January. The young forward was named player of the tournament after inspiring Tse Putsoa to the LNIG Top 8 title in April and has been a revelation all year. He is joined by Matlama teammate Ramalefane who was named goalkeeper of the tournament at the COSAFA Under-20 Championships in December after his performances helped Lesotho reach the final.

There are a few surprises in Maliehe’s squad with the main one being the exclusion of Bantu captain Thapelo Mokhehle. There is also no space for Lioli’s Tšoanelo Koetle or former captain Bokang Mothoana of Kick4Life.

Likuena will kick-off their COSAFA Cup campaign with a quarterfinal tie against Swaziland on June 3 at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

Lesotho Squad:
Goalkeepers: Likano Mphuthi (LDF), Sam Ketsekile (LCS), Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama)

Defenders: Nkau Lerotholi (LMPS), Basia Makepe (LMPS), Bokang Sello (Lioli), Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Kopano Tseka (Lioli)

Midfielders: Tshwarelo Bereng (free agent), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Kefuoe Mahula (Matlama), Mosiuoa Boseka (LCS), Lebajoa Mosehlenyane (Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Litšepe Marabe (Bantu), Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama), Luciano Matsoso (Oskar Przysucha, Poland), Lehlohonolo Fothoane (Bantu), Tšepo Toloane (LDF)

Strikers: Motebang Sera (Matlama), Nkoto Masoabi (Kick4Life)