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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lesotho Premier League: Results

Weekend Results
Saturday, 29 September
Joy 4-3 Bantu, Likhopo 0-1 Matlama, LCS 1-0 LMPS

Sunday, 30 September
Linare 0-0 Lioli, Nyenye Rovers 2-2 LDF, Mpharane Celtic 2-1 Qoaling Highlanders

Friday, September 28, 2012

Ask Thabane Sutu: The future looks bright for Liverpool

Another special from Thabane Sutu

I see a bright future!
Jonjo Shelvey celebrates with teammate Fabio Borini
Jonjo Shelvey reminds me a lot of a young Steven Gerrard! He is going to be a big player for Liverpool in the future.

Having said that, I still don't understand why he went for that tackle on Sunday against Man United! He was at least 60 metres from his goal and there was definitely no need to get into a challenge like that. However, he had the right to win the ball and I thought he both players should have been shown a yellow card.

The referee made three big decisions on the day and they were all in favour of Man United. Shelvey should not have been red carded, Johnson collided with Reina, Valencia goes down and he gets a penalty! Suarez was impeded inside the penalty area and he gets nothing!

That said, Liverpool’s season starts on Saturday against Norwich. Every team’s start to the season is determined by the strength of their fixtures.

Liverpool had to play Man United, Arsenal and Man City in the first five games of the season. That’s a very difficult start and two of those games Liverpool had to play down a man!

I just watched the Capital One Cup game between Liverpool and West Brom and we were magnificent. More importantly, it was a very, very young team. Andre Wisdom, Jack Robinson, Coates, Sahin (extremely good player), Yesil (he will become a household name very soon), Assaidi, Suso, and young Jerome Sinclair who became Liverpool’s youngest ever player at 16 years and six days.

Jerome Sinclair, Liverpool's youngest ever player
Dalglish was too conservative about playing these kids. Suso is ten times better on the ball than Charlie Adam, Yesil has that element of ingenuity about him, he does the unexpected! He is also 34 million pounds cheaper than Andy Carroll.

Assaidi is a tricky, tasty winger. He is fun to watch! He tormented the West Brom rightback today. He is going to be a very, very good signing for Liverpool. Some of the football the team played today was absolutely fantastic… very expansive!

Rodgers is introducing Barca’s possession style of football and it will take time. Traditionally, the football field is divided in thirds, but Barcelona have taken it further by dividing it into six areas. So when they win the ball they have six lines of attack and that’s almost impossible to control!

Lesotho Premier League: Weekend Fixtures

Weekend Fixtures
Saturday, 29 September
LCS v LMPS (LCS Stadium), Likhopo v Matlama (LCS Stadium), Joy v Bantu (Leribe Pitso Ground)

Sunday, 30 September
Linare v Lioli (Hlotse), Mpharane Celtic v Qoaling Highlanders (Mpharane), Nyenye Rovers v LDF (St. Michaels)

Springbok Team v Australia: Rugby Championship

Precocious flyhalf Johan Goosen will start his first Test for the Springboks when South Africa hosts Australia in the Rugby Championship at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.

It's Time: Johan Goosen will make his first start for the Springboks
The inclusion of the 20-year-old flyhalf in the place of Morné Steyn is one of three changes to the starting XV that lost 21-11 to New Zealand in Dunedin two weeks ago, and comes after a rather protracted public outcry.

Goosen’s selection is also a sneak preview of the potential strength the Boks can boast in the future. Goosen is one of six players in the match-22 that are 21 years-old or younger – the others being Eben Etzebeth, Marcell Coetzee, Pat Lambie, Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute.

“I’ve maintained from the outset that I won’t rush Johan, but I feel he is now ready to start a Test for South Africa and I’m excited to see what he can bring,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said on Wednesday when announcing the squad.

“Morné (Steyn), in the last four seasons, has played close to 140 matches at Test, Super Rugby and Currie Cup level and probably deserves a break, but this also provides a great opportunity for Johan, a player I rate very highly,” he added.

“Morné is a quality player and a fighter and I know he will bounce back.”

The other changes to the Springbok starting team come in the lock positions with the Western Province duo of Etzebeth and Andries Bekker returning to the fold. Etzebeth is back in the starting lineup after missing the defeat to the All Blacks because of a suspension while Bekker has been promoted from the bench, replacing Flip van der Merwe

“It’s good to have Eben back with us. Flip played very well in Dunedin, but he’s been struggling with an injury this week and that is why we decided to start with him on the bench. I also thought Andries did very well when he came on against New Zealand and he is an excellent jumper in the lineout as well,” Meyer said

in announcing his side to face Australia, Meyer also made four changes on the bench, including the inclusions of Coenie Oosthuizen, and the uncapped duo of Jantjies and Taute.

There could yet be one more change to the team, depending on the fitness of centre Frans Steyn. Steyn, who has been struggling with an ankle injury, has been bracketed with Taute in midfield. Should Steyn not pass a fitness test by today, Taute will start at 13 with captain Jean de Villiers moving to inside centre and Juan de Jongh coming in on the bench.

Meyer said the Springboks were looking forward to tomorrow’s Test and added that his realised the importance of the match.

“It’s great to be back home in South Africa after three tough matches on the road. We were not happy with the results in Mendoza, Perth or Dunedin and we know how big the Test at Loftus Versfeld is on Saturday,” said Meyer.

“The Australians will be tough opponents on Saturday. We’ve now lost our last five Tests against them and need to turn this around.”

Springboks looking to turn around a recent poor run against Australia
Match Trivia

- Saturday’s Test will be the 76th between South Africa and Australia. Of these, the Springboks have won 41, lost 33 and drawn one.

- The two teams have played 37 Tests against each other in The Castle Rugby Championship. The Springboks won 17, lost 19 with one match drawn. Points for: 796; Points against: 865; Tries for: 73; Tries against: 86; Average score: 22-23.

- Since 1933 the Springboks have played only five test matches against Australia at Loftus Versfeld and have been triumphant in all five. In 1997 South Africa scored their highest ever total number of points against Australia (61) at this venue.

- South Africa’s record against Australia at Loftus: Played 5; Won 5; Points for 161; Points against 87; Tries for 17; Tries against 9; Average score 32-17.

- Bryan Habana is the most capped Springbok wing with 80 Tests. He also holds the records for most tries in all Tests by a Springbok (43) and most tries by a Springbok in this competition (10).

- Jean de Villiers, the most capped Springbok centre with 64 Tests in this position, will become only the seventh Springbok to reach 80 Tests for South Africa. This will also be his 20th Test against Australia.

- Johan Goosen (who made his Bok debut in Perth earlier this month aged 20 years, one month and 12 days) is the fourth youngest player to play Test rugby for the Springboks since readmission in 1992. The youngest was Frans Steyn (19 years, 5 months, 28 days), followed by Chiliboy Ralepelle (19 years, 11 months, 15 days) and Pat Lambie (20 years and 20 days).

Springbok Team:

15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jean de Villiers (captain), 12. Francois Steyn/Jaco Taute, 11. Francois Hougaard, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Ruan Pienaar, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6. Francois Louw, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Andries Strauss, 1. Beast Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Coenie Oosthuizen, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Marcell Coetzee, 20. Elton Jantjies, 21. Jaco Taute/Juan de Jongh, 22. Patrick Lambie

Source: News24

Monday, September 24, 2012

Lesotho Premier League: Weekend Results

Weekend results
Saturday, 22 September
Qoaling Highlanders 2-2 Joy, Mpharane Celtic 1-4 Linare
Sunday, 23 September
Lioli 1-2 LCS, Matlama 1-2 Nyenye Rovers, Bantu 1-2 Likhopo, LMPS 0-1 LDF

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lesotho Premier League: Results

Today’s final scores
Saturday, 22 September
Qoaling Highlanders 2-2 Joy, Mpharane Celtic 1-4 Linare

Ask Thabane Sutu – Liverpool v Manchester United

It’s time for one of the most storied fixtures in world football, Liverpool versus Manchester United. Through the years this fiercely contested match has provided us many memorable moments. One man who has seen more than most is Thabane Sutu. He looks ahead to the latest installment of this great rivalry, tomorrow at Anfield, and also discusses Liverpool’s prospects. As always; it’s short and sweet.

I think we’ll get our first win on Sunday. We were awful at West Brom but we dominated the Manchester City game and we should have won. Arsenal dominated us, and I think Arsenal will win the league this season! Wenger has got this one right. If Diaby, Cazorla (he is a bargain at 15 million pounds) and Arteta remain fit, this could be their time.

Liverpool should have bought a real forward. I like Joe Allen; he can pass it around the corners. But I don’t think that’s what we needed at this time, especially seeing how Jonjo and Suso (he is a real talent) have emerged this season.

Liverpool v Manchester United, more than just a game.
I hope we can get Falcao or Leandro Damiao soon... both have been linked to us.

Man United have stuttered a little bit and have conceded goals. If we perform like we did last week, then we will get our first win.

Remember it’s not about how you start, but how you finish. Arsenal had a difficult start last season too but finished in the top four. It’s going to be a cracking game and emotions will be high after the findings of the inquiry into the Hillsborough disaster. All said, I’m backing Liverpool.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Lesotho Premier League: Weekend Preview

Contrasting fortunes...  Matlama and Lioli
Three weeks into the new season and the real challengers for the Vodacom Premier League title will begin to emerge.

At the beginning of the season the teams to watch were Bantu, Lioli, Matlama, Likhopo and LCS. This hasn’t changed although defeats for Matlama and Likhopo this weekend would see an early dent in their ambitions to claim Lesotho’s top football prize come next May.

Of these title contenders, Lioli, have certainly made the brightest start. After disposing of LMPS and LDF in their opening two games Tse Nala face their biggest test so far when they host champions LCS at the Lioli Stadium on Sunday.

Lioli didn’t make many signings in the off-season but they seem to have made the ones they needed. Tšoanelo Koetle, signed from Matlama, has been a revelation in midfield in his first two games while Liteboho Mokhehle will provide quality competition for Mohau Kuenane between the sticks, judging by his performances so far this season.

Sunday also sees another big clash when Bantu host Likhopo in Mafeteng. Likhopo suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to newly-promoted Qoaling Highlanders last weekend but such is the talent in their squad Motlatsi Shale’s side still have to be considered a title shot. This match, though, against Bantu – many people’s favourites for the title – will show if Likhopo really have what it takes to run the race this season.

In other games, Linare will be looking to build on their impressive 4-1 win over Joy last week when they travel to face another Leribe rival, Mpharane Celtic, tomorrow. Star attackers Mabuti Potloane and new record signing Pali Tšalong each grabbed a brace in the rout of Mpharane Celtic and Tse Tala will be looking to continue in the same vein as they seek to press home their own case in the title race.

Also tomorrow, new boys Qoaling Highlanders host Joy buoyed by their first ever win in Lesotho football’s top-flight, a 2-1 win over Likhopo last Sunday.

In the other league games this weekend, Matlama will be looking to get their season back on track after the monkeyshines of Mafeteng when they play host to new boys Nyenye Rovers who are themselves looking for their first win, and goal, since returning to the top-flight. In the weekend’s last match, rivals LMPS and LDF clash at the PTC Grounds on Sunday.

This weekend’s fixtures
Saturday, 22 September
Qoaling Highlanders v Joy, Mpharane Celtic v Linare
Sunday, 23 September
Lioli v LCS, Matlama v Nyenye Rovers, Bantu v Likhopo, LMPS v LDF

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Million Maloti Deal - The Likhopo Way

Four years ago when I started writing about Lesotho football if you had told me we would see a Million Maloti sponsorship deal for a local club by 2012 I would have thought you were totally mad. I mean the country’s league winners were getting M30 000 (US$3 636)!

But, four years on, this is exactly what has happened with Likhopo sealing a M1 million (US$121 000) sponsorship deal over two seasons with the Matekane Group of Companies (MGC).
As part of this momentous deal Likhopo will now officially be called MGC Likhopo… so I should probably start referring to them as MGC Likhopo!

Name change or not, the significance of this sponsorship deal cannot be overstated. It marks a massive improvement on where Lesotho football was even four years ago, and, above that, shows where the country can go if we keep moving forwards – even at turtle pace. As long as steps are being taken, there will be a way.

Business Time...
MGC boss Sam Matekane (left) and Likhopo owner Bishop Molatoli
sign on the dotted line.
The crazy thing, though, is this deal hasn’t received quite the coverage it warrants.

Simply put, this Likhopo deal is a remarkable milestone for Lesotho football and should serve as motivation for greater works in the future. That it is Likhopo that has received this ground-breaking sponsorship is quite poignant as this is a club that has given Lesotho the cream of its talent in recent years – Bokang Mothoana being the star student of a quite special class.

It’s also just reward for club owner Bishop Molatoli, Qamako Mahao and all the people who have run the club through the years. Often they have had to scrape the barrels of their pockets to keep the club afloat. Indeed, things at times got so bad Molatoli more than once considered giving up the club which would have been a tragedy.

Formed in 1999, Likhopo has not only become a production line of talent, the club has grown into a major name in local football. Likhopo of course achieved the rare feat of winning back-to-back championships in 2004/05 and 2005/06, and most recently were crowned 2010 Vodacom Soccer Spectacular champions.

However, Likhopo’s ability to compete has gradually been diminished by financial constraints, resulting in the departure of its best talent and struggles on the field which last season saw the side scraping away from relegation in the final week of the campaign.

In this sense MGC’s sponsorship is a timely resuscitation for Likhopo.

Though Lesotho is not at the level of South Africa for example, financial power in the 21st century counts everywhere and the widening gap in financial muscle is something that is beginning to matter in Lesotho football, as illustrated by the rise of Bantu for instance.

While Bantu and Lioli, for example, have flourished, Likhopo have had to introduce cost cutting measures. Last season Likhopo moved their home matches to the Ratjomose ground from LCS’s stadium in order to cut costs. Molatoli was also forced to sell Likhopo’s feeder side Little Flower which had campaigned in the first division.

“Normally we wouldn’t want to sell the team (Little Flower) because it is a good development for Likhopo, but we have no option – we have no money. We just can’t have two teams, it’s impossible; we can’t afford it,” Molatoli said prior to the sale of Little Flower to Kick-4-Life.

With this sponsorship with MGC Likhopo will receive M500 000 (US$60 600) a year.

While it is not a huge amount compared to other countries it is unprecedented in Lesotho and at least ensures that parts of the professional vision envisaged by Molatoli can be realised. One would think these include a home ground and improved facilities for Likhopo – something which is a possibility given that construction is MGC’s area of greatest expertise.

In the short term, flushed with new cash, the club has already stated it will introduce player contracts. At the moment only Lioli has such, despite this being a key idea and directive of the Mohale Declaration – a roadmap to turn Lesotho’s football professional – signed in 2008.

New players have also been vigorously recruited ahead of the new season and it certainly looks as though Likhopo will have one of the strongest squads in the top-flight, one that can challenge for the title.

Thapelo Tale, Sello ‘Muso and Lehlomela Ramabele – lured from league football in Botswana – have all been added to the roster. With money there will, of course, be pressure. Success on the field will be now a requisite for Likhopo, its young squad and new coach Motlatsi Shale. These are new pressures they will have to contend with as a team.

What is universally relevant for Lesotho is Likhopo have broken a barrier that once seemed impossible, and that should not only offer inspiration to Likhopo.

With the new tax reduction law passed last year, companies will surely be more open to sponsoring local football. According to the amendment to the Income Tax Act, 1993 law, a company (in simple terms) will have their tax reduced in relation to how much they commit to sponsorship.

It is certainly true that it is not only Likhopo who need sponsorship. There are other teams in desperate need of an injection too; Joy, Mpharane Celtics and Nyenye Rovers being prime examples in the top division.

Bishop Molatoli gives his charges a customary pep talk...
Lesotho’s clubs are run on massive debt and though there are no numbers to back this up these sums probably run into the hundreds of thousands. 

It is a double edged issue however. Clubs also have to shape up. For years they have been told to compile financial reports and run their affairs in a more professional manner. It is by no luck that Likhopo has secured this deal with MGC. Luck, in any case, is preparation meeting opportunity.

And this is one thing we seem to be unwilling to do – prepare.

The football fraternity and the country as whole have to be willing to pay the price to be taken seriously.

The vision we have is of grounds and stadia where people can go on weekends with their families to enjoy football in a safe and comfortable environment.

There is no doubt there is a market for football in Lesotho, however small it may be argued to be. There are people who love the game who would love nothing more than to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon sharing a beer with their friends and cheering their favourite teams.

However, they want safety and security at stadiums. They want a ground where they can actually have a seat if they desire. This would be a wonderful thing for Lesotho.

Football is an anti-depressant and can be tool for social cohesion. It is recreation and something to look forward to for many who slog though the week. In this sense I don’t believe we as a country have realised how important football and sport in general can be. You would hope the new government take extra heed to this call.

Just look at Brazil. Most of us first knew of the country because of its football, and you can’t dismiss football’s role in contributing to the country’s national image and eventual growth into a world power.  

Sport is a form of soft power and is important.

Some countries are known primarily for their sport, and they derive benefits from this. New Zealand with rugby is an example. Sometimes sports stars become ambassadors for their countries. Look at Ethiopia’s distance running legend Haile GebrSelassie. He is a world icon who has put his country on the map with his extraordinary athletic feats. He is now a humanitarian bringing real change to his country.

During the Olympics we saw Lesotho featured in world publications such as the Guardian and talked about on social media forums, something which doesn’t often happen. This is just an example.

Football is employment as well.

This is a topic that is rarely touched upon at time when we should be looking at all creative ways to curb unemployment. Football could be a major factor in Lesotho’s struggle towards job creation and economic development, if our policymakers stop viewing it as a leisurely pastime and more as an economic activity.

In many countries – South Africa being the closest example – sporting activities are economic activities not only for those directly involved in the sport, but for those who invest their money and time in them as well. 

Football, and sport in general in South Africa, has not only made its athletes millionaires, it has given the companies true returns on their investments, hence the ever increasing sponsorship of sport in South Africa.

Likhopo and MGC, a match made in Heaven.
Theoretically, as the football industry in Lesotho grows so will its needs increase over time as well. A thriving football industry would require more professional referees, trainers, medical personnel and other service workers.

This, theoretically, would enable Lesotho’s universities and other higher institutions of learning to set up new faculties and departments to help the industry satisfy its growing needs for trained staff, thus creating more jobs. Also, if most football clubs are run as business bodies with stricter respect for modern corporate rules, a lot more jobs will be created.

There is certainly potential for much more growth football-wise in Lesotho. And there are progressive teams that can lead the way. Bantu and Lioli are probably the prime examples and they need to be encouraged to continue on their path of development.

We also desperately need better pitches in Lesotho. Players (Bushy Moletsane and Ramabele being examples) are coming back home and in truth we don’t have a bad league, but we need better grounds. With better fields we can have a better product, which in turn will attract interest and backing. You have Lioli, Bantu, Matlama and Linare. These are grand clubs in Lesotho with passionate support. Imagine if they each had their own stadiums.

Definitely, this Million Maloti sponsorship will give motivation to Likhopo’s players. They will now go to training each day and play for something. It may also motivate other players to work harder so that they too can join Likhopo.

The problem remains of securing more sponsorship for teams, however, Likhopo’s deal is the type of sponsorship that Lesotho needs. And, although not enough has been made of the development, it is the shot in the arm Lesotho needs in its quest for a brighter future.

Lesotho Premier League: Results & Fixtures


Saturday, 15 September
Bantu v Matlama (match not played because Matlama failed to produce players’ cards), LDF 0-1 Lioli, LMPS 0-0 Nyenye Rovers, Joy 1-4 Linare
Sunday, 16 September
Likhopo 1-2 Qoaling Highlanders, LCS 2-1 Mpharane Celtic

Saturday, 22 September
Qoaling Highlanders v Joy, Mpharane Celtic v Linare
Sunday, 23 September
Matlama v Nyenye Rovers, Bantu v Likhopo, Lioli v LCS, LMPS v LDF

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Lioli go top

First to the ball! Lioli's Thabile Secker (right).
Lioli moved to the top of the Vodacom Premier League thanks to a superb 1-0 win over LDF at Ratjomose this afternoon. It’s now six points from six for Tse Nala and Lehlohonolo Thotanyana’s side certainly look like serious title contenders.

Unfortunately, such is the nature of the league this season, we will only find out the fixtures for next weekend on Tuesday. Nevertheless, Lioli will be confident of collecting another three points against whoever they are thrown against.

Tse Nala’s win today was secured by a 90th minute goal by midfielder Motlalepula Mofolo and ensures a perfect start to the season after another highly impressive 2-0 win over LMPS last weekend.

Lioli are likely to be joined by Bantu at the top after their match against Matlama today in Mafeteng had to be cancelled after Matlama were unable to produce players’ cards.

Elsewhere today, Linare got their first points of the season with a 4-1 mauling of Joy while LMPS and new boys Nyenye Rovers played to a goalless draw at the PTC Grounds.

In tomorrow’s games, newly-rich Likhopo, 2-0 winners over Linare last week, can cement their solid start to the season when they host newly-promoted Qoaling Highlanders at the LCS Stadium. The game will be the first of double header, with champions LCS hosting Mpharane Celtic in the later game.

Today’s Vodacom Premier League results:
LDF 0-1 Lioli, Joy 1-4 Linare, LMPS 0-0 Nyenye Rovers, Bantu v Matlama (not played)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lesotho Premier League weekend fixtures

Lesotho Premier League weekend fixtures

Saturday, 15 September
Bantu v Matlama (Bantu Stadium, Mafeteng), LDF v Lioli (Ratjomose), LMPS v Nyenye Rovers (PTC Ground), Joy v Linare (Hlotse)

Sunday, 16 September
Likhopo v Qoaling Highlanders (LCS Stadium), LCS v Mpharane Celtic (LCS Stadium)