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

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

“We have nothing to lose against Mbabane Swallows” - Bantu coach Madidilane

A mountain to climb for Bantu... but it's possible, says Madidilane

Bantu coach James Madidilane says A Matšo Matebele have nothing to lose in Wednesday’s CAF Champions League decider against Mbabane Swallows but he said playing with two strikers would be “suicidal”.

Bantu head into the away tie at the Swaziland champions trailing 4-2 from the first leg at Setsoto two Sundays ago.

The return game will kick off at 4pm at Swaziland’s national Somhlolo Stadium.

Madidilane’s side need a minimum of three goals to have any chance of progressing to the next round of the competition. Because of the away goals rule, the only way for Bantu to advance is to win by a three-goal margin (3-0, 4-1) or secure a high-scoring two-goal result (5-3, 6-4).

However, even with Bantu’s need for goals, Madidilane said it would be foolish for A Matšo Matebele to go gung-ho in attack and leave themselves exposed in defence. He said the Mafeteng giants need to improve defensively to stand a chance in Swaziland.

“I don’t see my team playing with two strikers (in the second leg),” Madidilane said. “With the type of players that we have I don’t think we would allow that because as much as we need to score goals we also mustn’t concede.”

“You can see we are still struggling in terms of our defending and it will be suicidal for us to play with two strikers. The match we are going to play on Wednesday is an international game; (Mbabane Swallows) caught us with transitions in the first leg, I imagine they will have many numbers at the back (in the second leg) and try to catch us again on counters. We have to be smart.”

Madidilane added: “We will have to improve; as much as we need goals we also need to defend. The manner and the way that we are going to approach the game is going to be different (from the first leg) but not by playing with two strikers.”

Offence certainly hasn’t been a problem for Bantu in recent weeks. A Matšo Matebele have scored 15 goals in their last six games in all competitions. They have a versatile attack with Lazola Tjokotjokwana, Litšepe Marabe, Lindokuhle Phungulwa and Tsietsi Motšeare all having scored four or more goals this season and Hlompho Kalake a constant threat from midfield.

In the first leg against Mbabane Swallows, Bantu created enough goalscoring chances to win and looked enterprising as usual going forward.

However, the problems for A Matšo Matebele recently have been at the back.

Bantu have only kept two clean-sheets in their past nine games and their latest show of defensive uncertainty came in last Saturday’s 4-2 Econet Premier League win over Linare where their leaky defence almost cost a 3-0 lead.

“The goals that we conceded (against Linare) were cheap goals,” Madidilane said. “We left the opposition players free in our box and we also ball watched. It’s a matter that we have to deal with so that on Wednesday we are not scored against. We have told the players that we have challenge better and we have to prepare ourselves.”

In the first leg, goals from Felix Badenhorst, Wonder Nhleko and a brace by Tony Tsabebze deflated Bantu’s hopes despite home strikes via Motšeare and Kalake.

A Matšo Matebele had gone into the tie with hopes of becoming the first Lesotho club since 2002 to reach the first round of Africa’s premier club competition when LDF beat Botswana’s Mogoditshane Fighters 1-0 on aggregate.

Bantu now face an almost impossible task to achieve that goal but Madidilane refused to give up. He said he hopes a better team balance will give Bantu a better result in the return leg.

“We want to attack with numbers as a team but at least if we have four players at the back it will give us a defensive balance. That will be better for us because we have nothing to lose, we have to go there and win,” Madidilane said.

“The game (against Linare) was better compared to the Mbabane game (in the first leg) but we still have to be quicker in our play because we have to make sure we equalise. We have to come out with intensity as quick as possible.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

LBA to re-introduce developmental league for under-21 players

An under-21 national league is in the pipeline...

Newly-elected Lesotho Basketball Association (LBA) director of development Faku Masupha says the LBA will re-introduce a developmental league for under-21 players this year.

Although Masupha didn’t give an exact date, the changes will probably come into effect when the 2018/19 campaign starts in August because the current season is already well underway.

The development league has not been played since 2015.

Masupha, who founded the successful Bokamoso Basketball Development Program in 2012, said the competition’s absence has affected the standard of the LBA’s top league, the National Basketball League (NBL) A-League. He said discussions are underway to introduce rules that will require all NBL clubs to have development league teams.

The grand vision, he added, includes a national league system beginning at primary schools.

“A developmental pipeline has different stages of which a player has to pass through before reaching the elite level,” Masupha explained.

“If things are go well we have to start from the cadet league targeting primary schools pupils and children at the community level, followed by a (high) school league, developmental league, promotional league and then the elite league.”

He continued: “At the moment we only have the high school league and the elite national league. We need to improve our players’ transition from grassroots level to professional level.”

Masupha said the developmental league will help to prepare young players for the pressures of the NBL A-League. 

“The absence of a developmental league kills a lot of local talent because some players jump straight to the senior league once they leave high school league, so what happens is they arrive in the league immature and are unable stand the pressure against old, experienced players. Because of that they end up losing interest in the sport,” he said.

Masupha said Lesotho needs to take youth development more seriously and that includes companies having a more impactful involvement in supporting development programmes.

“Development is the anchor position of the LBA, it is the anchor to any sporting code but requires proper planning that is properly monitored,” he said.

“For example, I planned to have Bokamoso Basketball Development programme back in 2011, I groomed most of the kids from the ages of 13 and 14 but we are only seeing results now,” Masupha added.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend Econet Premier League Review: A good weekend for Bantu, LCS and Lioli

It was a good weekend for Hlompho Kalake and his Bantu teammates...

The weekend came and went with another intriguing round of Econet Premier League action. For some teams it was a weekend to enjoy. For others, not so much.

It was a good weekend for…

Bantu
Bantu are feeling slightly better this Monday than they did last week. Whereas last week they are moping over a 4-2 loss to Mbabane Swallows in CAF Champions League, this weekend it was their turn beat someone 4-2 – their favourite opponents Linare.

In what turned out to be a pulsating Saturday afternoon encounter, Bantu were made to sweat after Tse Tala cut their initial 3-0 lead to 3-2 before halftime at Setsoto Stadium. But, despite some nervy moments in the second half, A Matšo Matebele found the poise and the goal seal a vital three points. Bantu are now unbeaten in their last 10 league games against Linare, winning eight, scoring 21 goals and conceding just six times.

However, on the worrying side as they head into Wednesday’s Champions League return leg in Swaziland, was the Mafeteng side’s defence.

Once again A Matšo Matebele were shaky at the back with goalkeeper Thabo Selisa called into action more often than coach James Madidilane would have liked.

Nonetheless, three points and a seven-point lead at the top of the Econet Premier League (with nine games to go) is nothing to complain about.

Bantu’s upcoming schedule
Date
Opponents
Competition
Venue
February 21
Mbabane Swallows
CAF Champions League
Away
February 24
Sky Battalion
LNIG Top 8
First leg
March 11
Sky Battalion
LNIG Top 8
Second leg
March 17
Sky Battalion
League
Away
March 25
LDF
League
Away

LCS claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win over Kick4Life. Good weekend...
LCS
LCS versus Kick4Life was probably the biggest match of the weekend. It was a match between two evenly-matched teams with hopes of making it into the top four again this season, a match between two sides that are established in Lesotho’s top tier alongside Bantu, Lioli, Matlama and LDF.

Whenever this group of teams meet it is usually a close affair decided by the odd goal, so, for LCS to get the better of Kick4Life should make them feel good about themselves.

More importantly, Sunday’s 1-0 win at the LCS Stadium has lifted Masheshena to sixth place, only four points behind fourth-placed LDF.

Lioli
Lioli finally got their first win under new coach Morena Ramorebodi at the fourth time of asking with a 1-0 victory over Majantja on Sunday.

It wasn’t easy. Tse Nala had to rely on a rare goal by defender Kopano Tseka to steal the three points away from Mohale’s Hoek.

But while the performance won’t have pleased the Lioli masses, the three points certainly will as the Teyateyaneng giants kept their title hopes alive. Tse Nala are seven points behind Bantu with seven games to go. The two teams still have to meet again before the season is decided. The win over Majantja was also important when looking at Lioli’s upcoming run of games. It is a difficult schedule, and Tse Nala need all the momentum they can get.

Lioli’s upcoming schedule
Date
Opponents
Competition
Venue
February 24
LMPS
LNIG Top 8
First leg
March 3
Matlama
League
Home
March 11
LMPS
LNIG Top 8
Second leg
March 18
Liphakoe
League
Away
March 24
Linare
League
Home

It was a bad weekend for…

Matlama
It wasn't a good weekend for Matlama...
Just when Matlama were looking like potential dark-horses for a potential title run, all hopes came crashing down with a shock 1-0 loss to Likhopo on Sunday at Ratjomose. Mosito Matela has done a wonderful job since taking over as coach at the end of October, but Matlama still have some growing up to do as a team in order to be genuine championship challengers and it showed on Sunday as they were outfoxed by a Likhopo side that hadn’t won since November and had lost three of its previous four matches.

Likhopo are always a team that gives Matlama a tough time. There is history between the clubs and their encounters always mean something. Even so, Sunday’s loss was the first time Matlama have lost to Likhopo in the league since April 2012, a run of 11 matches.

It is a disappointing blow but the consolation for Matlama (in third place with 29 points) is they are still well-placed to claim a top four place. Their next two league games are difficult, however. They face Lioli followed by a date against LCS.

Matlama v Likhopo head-to-head
18-02-2018
Matlama
0-1
Likhopo
23-09-2017
Likhopo
0-0
Matlama
11-03-2017
Matlama
1-1
Likhopo
15-10-2016
Likhopo
0-1
Matlama
27-02-2016
Likhopo
1-1
Matlama
14-11-2015
Matlama
2-1
Likhopo
07-02-2015
Matlama
1-1
Likhopo
14-09-2014
Likhopo
0-0
Matlama
09-02-2014
Matlama
3-1
Likhopo
22-12-2013
Likhopo
1-2
Matlama
15-06-2013
Matlama
1-1
Likhopo
29-09-2012
Likhopo
0-1
Matlama
07-04-2012
Matlama
0-2
Likhopo

Kick4Life
Kick4Life’s 1-0 loss away to LCS wasn’t poor but, in the greater scheme of things, it is now four points dropped from the last six available after last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Lioli. The slight blip, even though it has come against tough opponents, robbed the Old Europa side of a move into the top four for the first time this season.

It is also a speed bump for Leslie Notši’s side as they head into the weekend’s LNIG Top 8 quarterfinal first leg tie against Matlama.
Speed bump for Kick4Life...
Sky Battalion
Every week seems to be a bad one for Sky Battalion. Last season we thought Butha-Buthe Warriors were the worst team in the history of Lesotho top-flight. Warriors won just once in 26 games, lost 22 times, scored just 18 goals and conceded 88 to finish with a total of six points. That was very bad. But Sky Battalion might actually become the first team ever to finish the season with a negative points tally.

Sky Battalion are on minus -4 points right now after being docked six points for late registration at the start of the campaign. They haven’t won all season and have lost 14 of their 16 games.

Records are meant to broken, but this is one record Sky Battalion can’t be proud of.

Weekend Econet Premier League Results:
Saturday
Liphakoe 1-0 Sky Battalion
Sefotha-fotha 1-1 LDF
Bantu 4-2 Linare
Sunday
Matlama 0-1 Likhopo
LCS 1-0 Kick4Life
Majantja 0-1 Lioli

Econet Premier League Standings


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Bantu
15
11
3
1
30
9
+21
36
2
Lioli
15
8
5
2
22
11
+11
29
3
Matlama
16
8
5
3
17
10
+7
29
4
LDF
16
6
7
3
19
14
+5
25
5
Kick4Life
16
6
6
4
17
13
+4
24
6
LCS
15
5
6
4
12
9
+3
21
7
Majantja
16
5
5
6
14
16
-2
20
8
LMPS
14
5
4
5
15
15
+0
19
9
Liphakoe
16
6
1
9
15
22
-7
19
10
Linare
16
6
3
7
17
22
-5
18
11
Sefotha-fotha
15
3
7
5
10
16
-6
16
12
Likhopo
16
3
4
9
11
22
-11
13
13
Sky Battalion
16
0
2
14
4
24
-20
-4
·         Linare docked 3 points for late registration
·         Sky Battalion docked 6 points for late registration