Football fraternity mourns Fothoane
CONDOLENCE messages are pouring in for the late former Likuena goal minder Tšeliso Fothoane who passed on early last week after a long illness.
At the time of his death, Fothoane was working as technical director of Premier League returnees, Swallows.
During his hey-days, Makoko, as Fothoane was affectionately known, played for Mazenod Swallows from the 1977/78 season before he joined Matlama in 1989 and eventually ended his playing career at Swallows in the mid-90s.
His health started deteriorating two years ago after he had helped his former team, Swallows, to win promotion from B division to A Division. The was also promoted into the elite league at the end of last season.
Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) technical director Leslie Notši who was also Fothoane’s teammate at Matlama said this his death was a huge loss for the football fraternity.
“We have once again lost one of the greatest minds in the footballing community in this country,” Notši.
“When he arrived at Matlama in early 90’s he found me there and we played for about two seasons. We were actually playing in a same position. He was a good goalkeeper and a very humble person. He had almost all the qualities needed in a goalkeeper as he was tall and was also brave and we made a formidable partnership.
“I knew him before he came to Matlama because we grew up together in Hlotse where our fathers worked for the Lesotho Correctional Services. We also met in our high school days when he was playing for Masianokeng High School while I was at Lesotho High School.”
Notši said Fothoane who is the father to Bantu’s attacking midfielder, Lehlohonolo, has done immensely well in player development.
“We got along so well and even after our playing days, we would still meet and discuss football. I remember at some point we were discussing his son because I wanted to sign him when I was still Kick4Life coach.
“His contribution at the development stage has been immense as he has nurtured some of the best players in our football now. Most importantly, I think he was one of the coaches who understood the Mazenod culture when it comes to football and was always grinding results,” Notši said.
Swallows president Masienyane Masienyane shared the same sentiments with Notši and said the country’s football has lost a gem.
“We have lost a priced asset. The void that he has left in Mazenod community will be difficult to fill.
“He had an eye for talent and produced so many players among them former Likuena goalkeeper Thabo Khobolu, Matsoai Shokhoe who is now Matlama and Likuena goalkeeper coach and LMPS goalie Sekhoane Moerane.
“He also nurtured several field players,” Masienyane said.
Masienyane said Fothoane has to be credited for Swallows’ return to top-flight football.
“The team was playing in the B Division just three years ago and he approached me and advised that we get rid of all the players and get young and committed players. He promised results in two years and said we would be in the Premier League. It instead took us three years since we were runners-up to Majantja who were a point better than us in the first season. He knew what he was doing as most of the time everything would happen the way he had predicted.
“May his soul rest in peace and we pray that God sees his family through this trying time and strengthen them,” Masienyane said.
Fothoane will be laid to rest on 22 September at his home in Mazenod.