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, January 18, 2017

Moses Maliehe looks to build Likuena again

Starting again from scratch... Likuena is a new team
A new era for Likuena has begun. Two weeks ago Lesotho boss Moses Maliehe announced his first squad as national coach. The squad includes numerous new faces forced onto the coach because of the retirements of several key players.

The team started training in the last week of December and is preparing for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers which begin in April.

The CHAN qualifiers will be one of Lesotho’s major competitive engagements in 2017 and one of the main tests of Maliehe’s one-year contract as Likuena coach.

Only players that play their trade in their local leagues are allowed to participate in the tournament which is held every two years. The next edition is scheduled for Kenya in 2018 and the qualifiers start on April 20. Likuena will also start their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers in June where Lesotho has been pitted in Group L alongside Uganda, Tanzania and Cape Verde.

Maliehe initially called up a squad a week following his appointment on December 6 as Likuena boss. However, his preparations were halted after several players refused to show up for camp.

Maliehe said he was disappointed by the retirements of the players which include captain Basia Makepe and other key performers such as Kopano Tseka, Tumelo Khutlang and Tšepo Seturumane.

“We have a problem of players who retired from the national team,” Maliehe said. “We had call-ups before the Christmas break when we were going to Lehakoe (Gym) and they didn’t turn up. We are preparing for the CHAN. We are playing in April and we have already started preparing,” Maliehe said.

Despite the setback of not having his preferred group of players, Maliehe said it was a chance for the new faces to grab their opportunity in the national team.

“It is their chance to take,” Maliehe said. “They have the potential and the ability. We have Basotho players with talent all over the country. If a player has the talent and is performing well they have the right to play for the national team.”

"If a player has the talent, they have the right to play for Likuena."
- Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe
With things being as they are, Maliehe has chosen a team with a mixture of youth and experience. The youngest player is Under-20 international Lehlohonolo Fothoane from Swallows and Maliehe said he always likes to call up a handful of younger prospects in his squads.

“If you look at my national teams, even if look back to the Under-20 when I was coach, I always have players that are much younger that the rest of the group in order to bring them into the set-up and give them experience that will help their development,” Maliehe said.

“He is a future player, let me put it that way,” Maliehe added regarding Fothoane. “He is a player that can help us now but this is a chance for him to experience this level of football.”

“There is also Johannes Molapo from Sundawana,” Maliehe continued of the Tse Bo Yellow captain who has just returned to fitness after five months out with a fractured leg.

“(Molapo) is fine now,” he said. “He has trained well up to now. He is a good defender; when you watch him you may even think he is a midfielder because he is so good with the ball.”

In a wide-ranging discussion with the Molapo Sports Centre, Maliehe said he had already sent out requests for friendly games against Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya and South Africa in March.

“We have FIFA international dates from March 20 to March 28 and we are looking at playing two games,” he said.

Maliehe added that he wanted to cut down the squad down to19 players.

“Right now the squad is 24 players. We are going to cut it to 19 players by the end of February. Our preparations are going according to stages: stage 1, 2, 3 and 4,” he said.

“Right now we are in stage one which is training at Lehakoe. Stage two will be Lehakoe and going to Setsoto. Stage three and four will be more tactical and it will include friendly matches.”

Wrapping up, Maliehe said his plans and targets have been watered down by the absence of his preferred spine. Last July, Likuena impressively reached the quarterfinals of the COSAFA Castle Cup while Maliehe was still caretaker coach before succumbing to eventual champions South Africa.

Lesotho racked up impressive wins over Mauritius (3-0), Angola (2-0) and Malawi (1-0) before losing in a shootout to South Africa after a 1-1 draw.

“To me what I wanted to do is changed by the nature of the players at my disposal,” Maliehe said. “If you look at the players that are not available, these are players that have been in the national set-up for several years and are fully matured on the international stage.”
Tšepo Seturumane (left), Tumelo Khutlang (second left) and
Basia Makepe (right) are some of the stars no longer available for Likuena
“It’s not nice to always be building but we have to start again,” Maliehe said. “I’m very disappointed in those players that have chosen to retire because we are forced to go back to square one when we had a team that was growing and showing it can compete on the international stage.”

The CHAN qualifiers are divided into six regions – Northern Zone, Zone West A, Zone West B, Central Zone, Central-East Zone and Southern Zone – to determine the 15 countries that will join hosts Kenya.

In the southern zone, three teams will qualify for the CHAN finals.

“If we had the full squad that played at the COSAFA Cup we would be amongst those three teams,” Maliehe said.

Lesotho’s results under Maliehe in 2016:
Played
W
D
L
Goals scored
Goals conceded
10
4
1
5
13
17

26/03/16
2017 AFCON qualifier
Seychelles
2-0
Lesotho
29/03/16
2017 AFCON qualifier
Lesotho
2-1
Seychelles
21/05/16
Friendly
Botswana
2-1
Lesotho
05/06/16
2017 AFCON qualifier
Lesotho
1-2
Ethiopia
12/06/16
COSAFA Cup
Lesotho
3-0
Mauritius
14/06/16
COSAFA Cup
Angola
0-2
Lesotho
16/06/16
COSAFA Cup
Malawi
0-1
Lesotho
18/06/16
COSAFA Cup
South Africa
1-1
(lost on pens)
Lesotho
21/06/16
COSAFA Cup
Lesotho
2-3
Zambia
04/09/16
2017 AFCON qualifier
Algeria
6-0
Lesotho

Likuena coaches since 2000:
Lefa Ramakau (2000-2002)
Monaheng Monyane (2003-04)
Antoine Hey (Germany) (2004-06)
Motheo Mohapi (2006-07)
Zaviša Milosavljević (Serbia) (2007-09)
Leslie Notši (2009, caretaker)
Leslie Notši (2011-13)
Seephephe Matete (2014-2015, caretaker)
Moses Maliehe (2015-2016, caretaker)
Moses Maliehe (2016 –)

Likuena Squad:
Goalkeepers: Daniel Jousse (LCS), Likano Mphuthing (LDF)

Defenders: Tšeliso Ramathe (Matlama), Johannes Molapo (Sundawana), Poloko Mohale (LCS), Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Motiki Mohale (LCS), Koete Mohloai (LDF), Jerry Kamela (Lioli)

Midfielders: Tšeliso Ramafikeng (Kick4Life), Thabiso Mohapi (Bantu), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Kefuoe Mahula (Matlama), Litšepe Marabe (Bantu), Nketsi Rankhasa (Matlama), Tsebang Lebata (Bantu), Phafa Tšosane (Matlama)

Strikers: Motlalepula Chabeli (Kick4Life), Thabiso Brown (Kick4Life), Sera Motebang (Matlama), Keketso Synders (Sky Battalion), Tšepang Ntsenyane (Sky Battalion), Lehlohonolo Fothoane (Swallows)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Kick4Life add Likano Teele to stable

Likano Teele (right) in action for LCS against Zimbabwe's Dynamos
in the 2013 CAF Champions League
Kick4Life have completed the signing of Likano Teele. The Lesotho international has joined the club on a six-month contract.

Teele was most recently at Likhopo and he will help Kick4Life’s push in the second half of the Vodacom Premier League season.

Kick4Life are third in the premiership, one point behind leaders Bantu and are very much in the title picture.

Teele is Kick4Life’s second signing of the January transfer window after the club bagged Khubetsoana Kamela from Linare last week.

Kick4Life coach Leslie Notši said Teele’s signature is a timely boost for the Old Europa team.

“He provides depth and he also has a lot of experience. He has played for the biggest clubs in the country,” Notši said. “I have also had the opportunity to work with him some years back with the Lesotho Under-17 national team so I know his qualities. We believe he will bring a wealth of experience.”

Notši continued to say Teele will improve his side’s defence. Although Kick4Life are third, they have conceded the most goals in the top nine of the league. Kick4Life have let in 15 goals in their 15 games, only struggling Linare, Liphakoe, Rovers, Likhopo and Butha-Buthe Warriors have conceded more goals.

“As it is now the second round of the Vodacom Premier League season, we believe Likano will also come in handy in terms of beefing up our defence,” Notši said.

Teele won successive leagues with Likhopo in 2005 and 2006. He also featured in the CAF Champions League with LCS and won two Independence Cup titles with Bantu. Teele said he would like to stay at Kick4Life beyond the end of the season.

“I want to share the knowledge that I have with the young players at the club,” Teele added. “I want to see Kick4Life as a team that is contesting for titles.”

Kick4Life have made a concerted effort to bolster their squad as they look to establish themselves as a top four club in the Vodacom premiership. Last week Kick4Life completed the signing of Khubetsoana Kamela from Linare. The Lesotho youth international joined on a two and a half year contract.

The 18 year-old is one of Lesotho’s most promising talents.

Last season he was nominated for the Vodacom Premier League young player of the year. He was also part of the Lesotho Under-20 side that reached the final round of CAF African Youth Championship qualifying last year.

Kick4Life said they view Kamela as both a player for the future and one that can help the club immediately.

Notši said Kick4Life are unlikely to make any more signings before the transfer window closes at the end of January.

“We believe in what we have right now,” Notši said. “Now it is about being consistent.”

Sunday, January 15, 2017

4 Ways to Switch up Your Workout

Keep fit and have fun...
Neo Mosoeunyane is an exercise science major at Wittenberg University in Ohio, USA. She is from Lesotho and is interested in sports and exercise as a whole in the country. Her key focus is team and personal fitness. “I believe that we as a nation have a lot of work to do in this field,” she says.

Today she discusses cool ways to keep your workout fun and interesting.

Keeping fit does not have to be a boring and tedious routine. If you are like me, you get bored pretty fast with routines. Working out should be a fun way to keep healthy and blow some steam. Whether you are keeping fit at home or the gym, when things start to get tedious it becomes very easy to find excuses and lose interest.

One way I keep myself excited to stay fit is by switching it up.  Below are my four favourite ways to keep fit as well as YouTube links to some of my favourite home workouts. Doing different things and challenging myself in different ways always keeps me on my toes and excited to go workout. 

Morning yoga to start your day
1. Yoga is always a good way to have a fun workout with so many variations and intensities to choose from. It’s refreshing for the mind and body. Sometimes underestimated by fitness buffs, yoga can play a significant role in improving your muscle strength and tone, increasing flexibility and even helping with weight-loss. My favourite yoga workouts are by Adrienne Louise. On her YouTube channel, Yoga with Adrienne, there are lots of videos to choose from for all levels of expertise. I love that depending on how much time I have, I can always get a great Yoga session following one of her videos.

2. Aerobic Dancing is really an umbrella term for so many variations of dance workouts. Zumba, jazzercise, and belly dancing all fall under this umbrella term giving you a lot to choose from. One of the great things about dancing is its ability to accommodate everyone from beginners to advanced dancers all in one session.  

Aerobic dancing is a great high energy workout that improves your cardiovascular endurance, meaning your lungs and heart’s ability to sustain physical activity for prolonged periods of time. It’s also great for mental stimulation. When I’m looking for a great dance workout I always look to Keaira Lashae’s YouTube channel. From dancehall to Tabata workouts, you name it, she’s got it. Her workouts are always fun and challenging.

Strength training improves bone density
3. Strength Training has an immense amount of benefits. As you age, man or woman, you lose both your bone density and strength training is one of the best ways to counteract this natural process. Lunges, squats and step ups with weights have been proven as most beneficial in improving bone density. Always incorporate strength training into your workout regimen, especially if you are at higher risk of osteoporosis. More so strength training improves muscular strength, balance and increases the amount of calories your body burns. Although my strength workouts vary, I always make sure to incorporate squats, bench press, lateral dips, deadlifts and curls into the mix.

Running cultivates body and mind
4. Running – There is nothing better than going for a run after a stressful day. Running is not only a great exercise for the mind but is especially beneficial for the body. From improving your cardiovascular health, to toning up your muscles, running has a plethora of benefits. More than anything, running simply makes you happier. Often referred to as the runner’s high, when you run, your body releases endorphins into the brain which make one feel happier and upbeat. A 5KM run always does it just right for me!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Lesotho’s Napo Matsoso joins New England Revolution in MLS

Napo Matsoso will be showcasing his skills for the New England Revolution
in America's MLS
Lesotho international Napo Matsoso was selected ninth in the second round and 31st overall by the New England Revolution at the MLS SuperDraft on Friday at the LA Convention Center.

Matsoso played for Kentucky University and he became the highest MLS draft pick in the school’s history. No Wildcat had ever been taken before the third round previously.

Matsoso spent four years as a starter at Kentucky. He made 73 appearances for the university which were all from the starting line-up after graduating from St. Francis High School in Louisville, Kentucky.

The diminutive midfielder finished his career at Kentucky with 19 goals and 20 assists and earned three consecutive All-Conference USA First Team and NSCAA All-Southeast Region First Team nods.

He concluded his UK career with the third most assists in school history and tied for the ninth most goals.

As a senior in 2016, Matsoso captained Kentucky to the 16th overall seed and a first-round bye in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

Following the season, Matsoso was named to the NSCAA All-American Second Team. He also paced the Wildcats with 14 points during his junior season, leading the team to an undefeated record of seven wins and one draw in C-USA play en route to the league title.

Matsoso in action for UK
Born in Lesotho, Matsoso departed southern Africa at the age of 15 and travelled 9,000 miles to Louisville to pursue an education in the United States.

Matsoso is expected to join the New England Revolution team in Foxborough for the start of preseason training on January 23. The Major Soccer League starts on March 3.

“Congratulations to Napo for getting this chance at the next level,” Kentucky head coach Johan Cedergren said.

“We’ve said time and time again during his tenure at UK what a special player he is, and I'm looking forward to watching him bring his talent into the professional ranks. Napo helped lead our programme to another level. It’s great to see him have a chance to continue pursuing his dreams.”

A season of surprises begins final stretch

Title chasers... Kick4Life's Tšeliso Sejake tries to evade Lioli's Mafa Moremoholo
If the first half of the Vodacom Premier League season was anything to go by then the second half of the season is going to be a humdinger.

It was a first half where there were surprises on an almost weekly basis and it has set us up for what should be an exciting second half of the campaign.

The surprises went all the way to last weekend’s final match-day when Matlama surprised league leaders Bantu 1-0 who had themselves leapfrogged Kick4Life and Lioli in December. As things stand, the title race is so wide open that LMPS in fifth place, LCS, sixth, and maybe even Matlama in seventh place can still have a say.

With that being the case, the deciding key will most likely be consistency.

In the first round no team managed to have a definitive run of form, especially as the games started piling up at the tail-end of 2016. Kick4Life did an excellent job and held the lead for eight weeks between September and November but a dip in form over the final four games led to Kick4Life’s current third place in the standings.

More than others in recent times, this season feels as if will come down to the smallest margins because all the top sides have question marks to their names.

Bantu are on top but they have looked vulnerable in the big games. A Matšo Matebele lost to Matlama and Kick4Life and drew with Lioli in their biggest tests of the season so far and scoring goals has also been a problem for Mafeteng giants of late. Bantu have only four goals in their last five games.

Bantu’s last five league games:
17/11/16
Sky Battalion 0-0 Bantu
20/11/16
Bantu 0-0 Sundawana
27/11/16
Bantu 2-1 LCS
04/12/16
Liphakoe 0-2 Bantu
07/01/17
Matlama 1-0 Bantu

Champions Lioli, in second place, still possess the best team in Lesotho but they are still adjusting to life under Halemakale Mahlaha. Tse Nala also have the distraction of the CAF Champions League coming up in February.

Kick4Life, for their part, have probably been the most consistent team in 2016/17 but the depth of their squad will be tested when the season resumes. The question also remains if Leslie Notši’s side can beat the top teams. Yes, Kick4Life beat Bantu but they were thoroughly outplayed 4-1 by Lioli and they also lost to LMPS.

Meanwhile, LCS, in fifth place, have the pedigree. But, do they really have the quality?

Matlama started life under Seephephe Matete with an impressive win over Bantu. But, can they consistently maintain the same level of performance?

The second round will give all the answers and it should be fascinating.

The secound round begins this weekend...

Other talking points for the second round:

How will Sundawana’s weird season end up?
Last season Sundawana were the darlings of the Vodacom Premier League as they finished fourth in the league against all expectations.

However, the 2016/17 season has been a different kettle of fish altogether. Sundawana had no wins in their opening six matches and were just two points above the relegation zone. Tse Bo Yellow were then outclassed in their Independence Cup debut in October, losing 4-1 to Lioli and eventually finishing last in the four-team tournament.

It was a difficult transition period to start the campaign for the club after last season’s miracle coach Bob Mafoso left to join Bantu’s coaching staff in the off-season. In addition, last year’s top scorer Roboama Koloti was not available because of training at the police service, their best defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi went AWOL and club skipper Johannes ‘Mathoho’ Molapo was ruled out of action until the New Year after fracturing his leg.

Sundawana were in real adversity and at the end of October they parted ways with coach Sidwell Mothea. Sundawana, however, have found better form and that is a credit to the players and new coach Lehlohonolo “Freeze” Ntene.

Since October 9, Tse Bo Yellow are on an unbeaten a run of seven matches which is the longest such streak in the league. The challenge for Sundawana now is to start turning their draws into wins. If they can do that, another run at a top four place may not be out of the question. Sundawana, now in ninth place, have 16 points, eight points behind fourth spot. Once again they are hard to beat and an underdog with some bite.

Can Sky Battalion continue their surprise season?
Despite Kick4Life’s heroics, the biggest surprise of the season so far is Sky Battalion. SK were only promoted in May but they are three points off the top of the table. While mounting a title challenge still appears far-fetched, Sky Battalion are in a good position to make a run for fourth place.

Sky’s Battalion’s next three games
15 January: Sundawana v Sky Battalion
21 January: Sky Battalion v LCS
29 January: Sky Battalion v Linare    

Sky Battalion’s next three games do look challenging, but if they can come out of them with five or six points, they would be content. Consolidating their excellent start is SK’s biggest challenge in the second half of the season.
Sky Battalion have been this season's surprise package

Will Butha-Buthe Warriors produce a miracle?
Every week in the first round was seemingly a bad one for Butha-Buthe Warriors as the new boys inched closer and closer to a swift relegation. Alarmingly, Butha-Buthe Warriors are on course for the worst league campaign in over a decade.

Lowest Premier League points totals since 2005/06
Season
Team
Games
Points
Average points per game
2006/07
Butha-Buthe Warriors
30
11
0.37
2008/09
Sekamaneng Young Stars
30
8
0.27
2009/10
Butha-Buthe Roses              
30
10
0.30
2010/11
Mabeoana
26
9
0.35
2013/14
Melele
26
12
0.46
2013/14
Joy
26
10
0.38
2014/15
Qoaling Highlanders
26
9
0.35
2016/17
Butha-Buthe Warriors
13
2
0.15

Their two points from 13 games is an average of 0.15 points which is worse than the 0.27 managed by a woeful Sekamemang Young Stars in the 2008/09 season. Butha-Buthe Warriors were completely outclassed in the first round. They scored just eight goals in 13 games and conceded a whopping 38.

Butha-Buthe Warriors’ next three games
14 January: Butha-Buthe Warriors v Kick4Life
21 January: Butha-Buthe Warriors v Bantu
29 January: Matlama v Butha-Buthe Warriors          

If they don’t improve, the Butha-Buthe side will be going straight back down to the first division. As things stand, Warriors need a miracle; their next three games are against teams in the title hunt.

Weekend Fixtures
Saturday 14 January  
LCS v Linare (15:00, LCS)   
Liphakoe v Rovers (15:00, Quthing) 
Butha-Buthe Warriors v Kick4Life (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)        

Sunday 15 January
Sundawana v Sky Battalion (15:00, Maputsoe DiFA Stadium)
Lioli v LDF (15:00, Setsoto Stadium)
LMPS v Matlama (15:00, PTC)
Bantu v Likhopo (15:00, Mafeteng)

Vodacom Premier League Standings


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Bantu
13
8
3
2
20
5
15
27
2
Lioli
13
8
2
3
25
8
17
26
3
Kick4Life
13
8
2
3
24
14
10
26
4
Sky Battalion
13
7
3
3
17
10
7
24
5
LMPS
13
6
5
2
12
7
5
23
6
LCS
13
6
4
3
15
13
2
22
7
Matlama
13
6
5
2
17
7
10
20
8
LDF
13
5
5
3
12
9
3
17
9
Sundawana
13
3
7
3
11
11
0
16
10
Linare
13
3
5
5
21
19
2
14
11
Liphakoe
13
3
3
7
10
17
-7
12
12
Rovers
13
2
2
9
8
23
-15
8
13
Likhopo
13
1
2
10
6
22
-16
5
14
Butha-Buthe Warriors
13
0
2
11
8
38
-30
2
·         Matlama docked 3 points
·         LDF docked 3 points and 3 goals