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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Moses Maliehe names Likuena squad for Algeria tie

Namibia joy to continue in Algeria?
Lesotho caretaker coach Moses Maliehe has selected a 19-man squad to face Algeria next month in the team’s final 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.

It is exactly the same squad that did well in June’s COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia where Lesotho reached the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champions South Africa on penalties. The team will once again be captained by recent LMPS recruit Basia Makepe.

Likuena’s tie against Algeria will be played on September 4 in Algiers. Likuena have already been ruled out of contention to qualify for next year’s finals in Gabon.

Lesotho is bottom of Group J with three points after five games. That qualifying spot has gone to Algeria which secured its spot at Gabon 2017 in the last round of matches.

Algeria is the top ranked team in Africa and is rated 32nd in FIFA’s world rankings. Lesotho is 47th in Africa and 146th in the world.

Lesotho squad to face Algeria
Goalkeepers: Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli), Daniel Jousse (LCS)
Defenders: Basia Makepe (LMPS), Kopano Tseka, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo (all Lioli), Sepiriti Malefane (LCS), Nkesi Rankhasa (Matlama)
Midfielders: Jerry Kamela, Montoeli Sonopo (both Lioli), Mabuti Potloane, Jane Thaba-Ntšo, Phafa Tšosane, Kefuoe Mahula (all Matlama), Thabo Seakhoa (LCS), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu)
Strikers: Motebang Sera (Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang, Tšepo Seturumane (both Lioli)

Lesotho AFCON2017 qualifying results
Ethiopia 2-1 Lesotho (14/06/15)
Lesotho 1-3 Algeria (06/09/15)
Seychelles 2-0 Lesotho (26/03/16)
Lesotho 2-1 Seychelles (29/03/16)
Lesotho 1-2 Ethiopia (05/06/16)

Group J


Monday, August 15, 2016

Lioli snap up Thapelo Tale from Likhopo

Lioli's new front-man... Thapelo Tale
Champions Lioli have finally made a splash in the transfer market by completing the signing of Lesotho international striker Thapelo Tale from Likhopo. The 28 year-old has moved to the Teyateyaneng giants on a three-year contract and fills a need Lioli have been trying to fill since the end of last season.

With the CAF Champions League on their schedule next year, Tse Nala have been looking to strengthen their attack.

Despite winning the league last season, Lioli’s top scorer – striker Nkoto Masoabi – only scored eight goals.

Lioli chased Sundawana’s Roboama Koloti as a solution and made an offer for the Under-20 star. However, the champions were rebuffed by Sundawana’s M2 million asking price.

Lioli have also completed the signing of midfielder Setho Moshoeshoe who is returning to his childhood club after spending ten years in the United States.

The two signings bolster an already star-studded Lioli squad looking to win its third successive championship in the 2016/17 Vodacom Premier League season.

In other transfer news, Likhopo have completed the signing of Lereko Matsipa from Liphakoe.

Matsipa, who began his career at Likhopo, has re-joined the club on a free transfer.

The former Likuena international joined Liphakoe in 2014 and immediately helped the Quthing side gain promotion to the Vodacom Premier League and last season was an important contributor as Liphakoe maintained their premiership status.

The versatile Matsipa, who can play in defence or defensive midfield, won two Premier League titles with Likhopo in 2005 and 2006. Matsipa also enjoyed a successful spell with Lioli winning the title in 2009. His experience will be a valuable asset to a talented but youthful Likhopo squad.

To the Olympics and things have not gone well for Team Lesotho so far. Both of Lesotho’s boxers, Inkululeko Suntele and Moroke Mokhotho, were beaten in the first round of the boxing tournament.
Boxer Moroke Mokhotho
Suntele lost to Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi in the 52 kilograms flyweight class on Friday while Mokhotho was defeated by Achraf Kharroubi of Morocco on Sunday in the 56kg competition.

In athletics, Lesotho’s main hope Mosito Lehata also suffered disappointment when he missed out in the 100 metres heats.

Lehata will get a chance to bounce back in the 200 metres which start on Tuesday. The second and final week of the Olympics will also see Tšepang Sello, Namakoe Nkhasi, Lebenya Nkoka, Tšepo Mathibelle and Phetetso Monese get their taste of the action. The Rio 2016 Games end on Sunday.

Linare will be stronger in 2016/17

A better 2016/17 for Linare?
Linare coach Motlatsi Shale says he is expecting a better Tse Tala team in the 2016/17 Vodacom Premier League season.

The Leribe giants endured a dismal 2015/16 campaign in which they were stuck in the relegation dogfight all season. Ultimately, Linare only secured survival in the penultimate game of the season.

Despite that poor campaign, expectations are always high in Hlotse and Shale, who took the reins in January, said his side will be improved this term.

Linare begin their season on August 27 at home against newly-promoted Sky Battalion and Shale said Tse Tala will be a better balanced outfit.

“We will try to have a mixture of young and experienced players to give balance to the squad,” he said. “I believe we have done well in the pre-season and will continue to work hard to have a competitive side come the start of the new season.”

Shale also urged Leribe businesses to support Linare.

“It is important for the whole Hlotse community to support us, especially the corporate sector through sponsorship,” he said.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Mosito Lehata begins Rio 2016 campaign

Mosito Lehata (left) begins his Rio 2016 run
Mosito Lehata begins his Rio 2016 Olympics on Saturday evening when he races in the 100 metres.

Because Lehata is a ranked runner he will not compete in the preliminary round which starts from 19:30 (CAT). Instead, he will race in the first round heats which start at 22:00 (CAT). The semi-finals and the final of the 100 metres will be on Monday.

Lehata is in good form heading into his Rio bow.

He won silver in the 100 metres at the Africa Senior Championships in South Africa in June where he set a new personal best time of 10.04 seconds, which is also the Lesotho national record.

Speaking on Friday, Lehata said he hopes to lower his 100 metres mark again and reach Monday’s final.

“I don’t know how far God can carry me but I am hoping for a new national record and to make to it to the final. That is what I am praying for. Hopefully God hears me cry,” Lehata said.

Lehata will also race in the 200 metres which starts on Tuesday.

His personal best time in the event is 20.42 seconds which he set last July in Tomblain, France.

The 100 and 200 metres record holder is Lesotho’s biggest draw at the Rio Olympic Games.

He fine-tuned his preparations at a training camp in Nancy, France from July 14 to 30.

Lehata also has solid championship pedigree. He was in a finalist in the 200 metres at the 2014 Commonwealth Games where he eventually finished fourth. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Kuenane goes under the knife, Lesotho duo off to United States

Lesia Thetsane is off to the US 
Lioli goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane is expected to be out for at least two to three months after under-going surgery on a troublesome left knee.

Kuenane was the first choice goalkeeper for both Tse Nala and the Lesotho national side until the start of last season. However, he struggled to remain fit during the 2015/16 season thanks to a niggling knee problem. Kuenane eventually lost his place at Lioli to Liteboho Mokhehle and Kananelo Makhooane.

He was also unable to recover in time to be considered for Likuena’s trip to the COSAFA Castle Cup in June.

Lioli sought medical advice on Kuenane’s injury woes and surgery was decided as the best solution.

The 31 year-old stopper underwent the surgery in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

The premiership champions hope the successful surgery means Kuenane will return to full fitness and form when he recovers.

Staying with football and the Kick4Life pair of Lesia Thetsane and ‘Mako Makoanyane is set to depart for the United States this week.

The promising duo, both 19 years old, has been awarded two-year scholarships to play and study at the State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Missouri.

Both players enjoyed stellar 2015/16 campaigns. Thetsane was nominated for the Vodacom Premier League’s young player of the season award for his marauding displays from left-back.

The duo brings the number of Lesotho players overseas to three. Thetsane and Makoanyane join Likuena attacker Tšotleho Jane who also plies his trade in the US with Richmond Kickers.

Finally, the pre-season competition involving Matlama and Botswana’s Township Rollers will be this weekend’s main attraction.

The three-team international showdown will also feature Bantu and will take place at Setsoto Stadium.

Bantu will face Rollers at 13:00. Hosts Matlama will then get their turn to have a crack at the visitors at 15:00.

Tickets are M20 for the open stands and M30 for the Royal Stand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Team Lesotho’s Rio 2016 schedule

Moroke Mokhotho will begin Lesotho's
Rio 2016 campaign
The first Lesotho athlete to taste action at the Rio 2016 Olympics will be boxer Inkululeko Suntele when he faces Tunisia’s Bilel Mhamdi in the early hours of Friday morning. Suntele, who will compete in the 52 kilograms flyweight class, will box in the round of 32 clash at 03:15 CAT on Friday.

The winner of the Suntele-Mhamdi bout will meet Argentina’s Alberto Ezequiel Melian or Ghana’s Abdul Omar on Monday in the round of 16.

Suntele’s fight will launch Team Lesotho’s Rio 2016 campaign.

On Saturday, Lesotho’s leading man and flag bearer Mosito Lehata will hit the track when the 100 metres preliminary heats get underway.

After that, Suntele’s boxing teammate Moroke Mokhotho will get his turn in the ring when he meets Achraf Kharroubi of Morocco on Sunday morning. Should Mokhotho advance he will face Cuba’s Yosbany Veitia in the next round of the 52kg flyweight competition.

With most of Team Lesotho involved in the athletics programme, the majority of the action for Lesotho will take place in the second week of the Olympic Games.

Team Lesotho, Events and Dates:

Athlete: Moroke Jeremia Mokhotho (Boxing)
Date of Birth: November 12, 1990 (Age 25)
Events: Boxing Men’s Fly (52 kg)
Dates: Sunday, 14 August - Round of 32 v Achraf Kharroubi (Morocco), 04:00
Athlete: Inkululeko Suntele (Boxing)
Date of Birth: April 30, 1994 (Age 22)
Events: Boxing Men’s Bantam (56 kg)
Dates: Friday, 12 August - Round of 32 v Bilel Mhamdi (Tunisia), 03:15

Athlete: Tšepang Sello (Athletics)
800 metres runner Tšepang Sello
Date of Birth: February 23, 1997 (Age 19)
Events: Athletics Women’s 800 metres
Dates: Wednesday, 17 August – Women’s 800m Round 1 Heats (starting 20:55)

Athlete: Namakoe Nkhasi (Athletics)
Date of Birth: January 10, 1993 (Age 23)
Events: Athletics Men’s 5000 metres
Dates: Wednesday, 17 August – Men’s 5000m Round 1 Heats (starting 15:05)

Athlete: Mosito Lehata (Athletics)
Date of Birth: April 08, 1989 (Age 27)
Height and Weight: 1.77 metres - 69 kg
Athletics Men’s 100 metres
Athletics Men’s 200 metres
Saturday, 13 August – Men’s 100m Preliminary Round Heats (starting 19:30)
Tuesday, 16 August – Men’s 200m Round 1 Heats (starting 21:50)

Athlete: Lebenya Nkoka (Marathon)
Date of Birth: October 19, 1982 (Age 33)
Events: Athletics Men's Marathon
Dates: Sunday, 21 August (19:30)

Athlete: Tšepo Mathibelle (Marathon)
Date of Birth: June 30, 1991 (Age 25)
Events: Athletics Men’s Marathon
Dates: Sunday, 21 August (19:30)

Athlete: Phetetso Monese (Cycling)
Date of Birth: September 22, 1984 (Age 31)
Event: Cycling Mountain Bike Men’s Cross-country
Dates: Sunday, 21 August (22:30)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vodacom Premier League Power Rankings - Lioli the team to beat

In three weeks the 2016/17 Vodacom Premier League season kicks off.

After three months of patient waiting, the new campaign will get started on August 27 when champions Lioli face LMPS.

With the season so close, teams are stepping up preparations and finalising their squads.

It is therefore a good time for the first ever edition of the Vodacom Premier League rankings, a rating comparing the strength of all 14 clubs. Enjoy.
Lioli remain the powerhouse to beat
1. Lioli
Last season: Champions
Lioli remain head and shoulders above the competition. Even if the champions don’t make any signings before the season starts, they would still start the 2016/17 campaign as clear favourites, that is how strong Lioli’s squad is.

As it is, Tse Nala are chasing Sundawana striker Roboama Koloti who they believe would be the final piece to their imposing squad especially as the club towards the CAF Champions League next year.

However, Lioli’s interest in Koloti has cooled since Tse Bo Yellow slapped a M2 million price tag on the striker. As things stand, the champions seem likely to go into battle with the same squad that claimed the league and LNIG Top 8 cup double last season, and it should still be enough to keep Lioli as the team to beat.

2. Matlama
Last season: 2nd
Last season’s title challenge has revived Matlama and it has given the club credibility after four directionless years. Those years of wondering appear behind them. Under Moses Maliehe, Matlama look to be headed in the right direction.
Leading Matlama's youth charge... Motebang Sera
Tse Putsoa have plenty of young and exciting pieces led by high-scoring midfielder Jane Thaba-Ntšo and last season’s top scorer Motebang Sera. Matlama also haven’t given up on Bantu’s Lesotho international Hlompho Kalake. He would be a major boost, especially if no key players leave Pitso Ground before the season starts. Kalake is the kind of player that can elevate Matlama into Lioli’s stratosphere.

3. LCS
Last season: 3rd
In a similar way to Matlama, last season’s performance has validated LCS again. After winning the league in 2012, Masheshena had fallen to an after-thought in the title conversation. They finished fourth in 2013, 11 points off the top and seventh in 2014, 18 points adrift of first place.

LCS were not a threat. But since Mpitsa Marai took over last year things have changed and last season they were in the title hunt until April before eventually finishing third.

Mpitsa has great tactical nous and he was able to extract the maximum from his squad. With another year to build on, Mpitsa’s LCS will surely be even better. Another positive side is club captain Moitheri Ntobo is returning for another season. The 37 year-old has been an example at Masheshena for over a decade.

His leadership combined with the talents of stars such as Ralekoti Mokhahlane, Lieta Lehloka, Daniel Jousse, Thabo Seakhoa and Mosiuoa Boseka, not to mention the addition of Sepiriti Malefane from Bantu, makes LCS a serious contender this season. Their victory in last weekend’s Alliance Winter Challenge proved that.

4. Kick4Life
Last season: 6th
There is so much promise and expectation with Kick4Life that the noise is difficult to ignore. They have former Lesotho coach Leslie Notši in charge and they are strengthening their squad to match their ambitions. The promise of stability and steadiness under Notši is their main calling card.

Under Notši last season Kick4Life transformed into one of the hardest teams to beat in the Vodacom Premier League and that trend should continue this term. After Notši arrived as coach last November, only the top three sides (Lioli, Matlama and LCS) collected more points than Kick4Life. In that time the Old Europa club only lost four times in 15 games.

Most points since Leslie Notši’s appointment in 2015/16

The addition of Bokang Mothoana is also a major coup. It is not out of the question that his experience and quality can thrust Kick4Life into the top four. Who knows? Maybe even higher.

5. Bantu
Last season: 7th
There are a lot of doubt over Bantu and because of that it is difficult to rate them in the top four in these Power Rankings. There is still an abundance of quality in the 2014 champions’ squad. A Matšo Matebele also made their intention clear with their hiring of South African James Madidilane as coach.
Bantu kingpin... Hlompho Kalake
But it remains to be seen how everything gels and if there are any lingering effects from last season’s disastrous seventh-place finish.

Much also depends on whether or not Hlompho Kalake stays in Mafeteng. Bantu have already lost Sepiriti Malefane to LCS.

6. Sundawana
Last season: 4th
Sundawana are a conundrum heading into the new season. On one side, it is extremely difficult to see Sundawana repeating their heroics from last season where they finished fourth. For a start, they have lost their miracle coach Bob Mafoso who has left to become Bantu’s assistant coach. Their best players from last season Roboama Koloti and Motlomelo Mkhwanazi are wanted men and it remains to be seen if they will remain at the club (even if Koloti has signed a new contract).

Even if their star players stay, history is against Sundawana. Recent history is filled with examples of Butha-Buthe teams that fell off after good seasons. Maduma and Likila United are such cases. Both fell away and ultimately got relegated the season after they enjoyed success – Maduma finished ninth in 2011 and were relegated in 2012, Likila were sixth in 2015 and went down this year.

However, on the other side, Sundawana are not resting on their laurels. They have already signed Ghanaian pair Norman Kumatse and Ernest Antwi and, by giving Koloti a new and improved contract, Tse Bo Yellow have shown they are determined to make sure 2015/16 is not a one season wonder.

Ultimately though, as the Alliance Winter Challenge showed (where Sundawana finished behind LCS, Matlama and Lioli), Tse Bo Yellow are still a few steps behind the elite.

7. Likhopo
Last season: 5th
Likhopo are a club in transition. Veteran campaigners Bokang Mothoana, Tefo Maipato, Sefoli Ntoi and Nyakhane Nyakhane have all left the club. Likhopo also still have to confirm who their coach will be for the 2016/17 campaign after Shalane Lehohla was sacked towards the end of last season.

However, as always, the Red Army showed last season that they have plenty of young stars ready to take over the show. Top striker Thapelo Tale should also be back from the start of the season which should make a difference after his standoff with the club last year.

8. LDF
Last season: 8th
LDF are the second most successful club in Lesotho having won eight league titles. They are also the only side to ever win three titles in a row. But that was back in 1999 and their last league triumph was in 2005. In fact, Sohle-Sohle haven’t won a single piece of silverware since the former Buddie Top 4 in 2008. Another worry is LDF have pretty much been the same side for the past five years. Their tactics are not inspiring and they don’t score enough goals, the most they have registered in the league since 2011 is 31 in the 2014/15 campaign.
Ever-green midfield maestro Molefe Lekoekoe (centre)
Instead, LDF rely on striker Mojela Letsie and midfielder Molefe Lekoekoe. Letsie, 31, has been one of the country’s best strikers for almost a decade now and last season he notched eight goals. He remains a constant goal-threat and Lekoekoe is still one of Lesotho’s best midfield generals. However, LDF will not be a contender unless they get some quality around Letsie and Lekoekoe.

Last season: 9th
Headed by Nkau Lerotholi who is still arguably the best defender in Lesotho and Tšepo Seturumane, who is arguably the country’s best finisher, LMPS have serious quality in their squad.

However, the question, as always, is if their collection of talent will be motivated for the whole season. The fact Simunye have escaped relegation battles in each of the last two seasons shows their quality only shows up when it is forced to.

10. Linare
Last season: 10th
Linare are yet to add any new players to their squad and, from their dismal performance last season, it is clear that Linare have to improve their team if they are to be competitive. Linare coach Motlatsi Shale has insisted the twice times champions will be a stronger unit this season. Former Likhopo player Tefo Maipato has also been training with Tse Tala and his addition would be welcome. At the moment Linare’s main bright spot is last season’s Vodacom Premier League young player of year nominee Khubetsoana Kamela.

11. Sky Battalion
Last season: A-Division South Stream champions
Sky Battalion are the new boys in the league and everyone wants to see how they will fare. They are bankrolled by Chinese construction businessman Hua Gao who has overseen the club’s rapid rise from being in the second division just three years ago. 
Will Sky Battalion survive the step up?
The positive for Sky Battalion is they have the resources to strengthen their squad for the transfer window closes and give coach Molebatsi Mothobi something to work with in their debut Vodacom premiership campaign.

12. Liphakoe
Last season: 11th
Liphakoe have many holes to fill if they are to remain in the Vodacom Premier League. Right now too much depends on midfielder Tšepo Toloane, scorer of seven of the club’s 19 goals in last season’s debut campaign. The Lesotho Under-20 captain is a rising star but he will be a marked man this season. Another survival would be a successful campaign for Liphakoe.

13. Rovers
Last season: 12th
Rovers survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season and will be hoping to use that experience to their advantage this term. However, the odds are against the National University of Lesotho side prolonging their stay in the top-flight.

14. Butha-Buthe Warriors
Last season: A-Division North Stream champions
Newly-promoted Butha-Buthe Warriors are odds on favourites to go straight back down. As shown by their disappointing performance in May’s end of season A-Division Top 8 (where they were knocked out in their first game) Warriors are lacking in quality. There is no question they have to improve their squad if they are to compete this season. Coach Motlatsi Thibinyane has a lot of work on his hands if Warriors are to survive relegation.