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Lioli fans come of age

Teboho Molapo
MASERU — The year 2009 will be remembered for Lioli’s league triumph, their first since 1985, and the achievement of Tse Nala’s Holy Grail.
But this year should also be remembered as the year Lioli fans came of age.
Rarely has a league success meant so much in so many ways.
From being the ugliest bridesmaid — both on and off the field — Lioli have, as 2010 beckons, come to symbolise what Lesotho football should be in the next decade.
Of course Lioli, as a club, are not perfect.
Their interim leadership of president Lebohang Thotanyana, secretary Chaka Chaka and treasurer Likotsi Likotsi has been challenged — and rightfully so — for trying to make Lioli their personal property.
The three were elected only as an interim committee last June after the disbanding of the club’s administration, and some in Teyateyaneng feel it is time an election took place at the club.
Certain players within Lioli have also done their bit to disgrace themselves and the club recently — Sello Muso, Brown Makobe and Mohapi Ntobo — have all drunk themselves senseless at times.
Not that players can’t indulge themselves a drink or two, after all they are only human — but they are role models not only for themselves but their clubs and the nation, which idolises them.
And then of course, Lioli’s home ground in Teyateyaneng — a barren, open piece of land — makes a mockery of the club’s standing in domestic football.
But still, it is their fans’ belief and conviction, Lioli can now stake a claim to being the kings of Lesotho football.
In a month where Majantja fans attacked match officials after a 2-3 loss to Linare in the league; in a season where Swallows fans have done similar and Matlama supporters have been accused of losing control, the Lioli faithful should be complemented for — not just turning-out in their droves to support their team — but also bringing a spirit that others are now striving hard to emulate.
And this season hasn’t always been about triumph for the club.
Lioli were surprisingly dumped out in the semi-finals of the MGC Supa 8 in August.
However, Roma never saw any violence following the loss.
Lioli were beaten by LMPS 1-0 at Old Europa in the league this season and no incidents (of violence) were reported.
And the same happened at Ratjomose and Matsieng, where Lioli lost to Likhopo in the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular.
What those examples illustrate is Lioli are not unbeatable on the field, but definitely so off it.
It is all a far cry from Lioli’s recent Hall of Shame.
In the Imperial Top 8 in 2006, the game was abandoned after Lioli fans rioted.
In 2005, Lioli fans ripped-out the seats at the Setsoto Stadium on the way to a 1-2 defeat to LDF in the Buddie Top 4 final.
Many a time this year, Lioli fans have invaded districts across Lesotho.
LCS’s Central Prisons in February was a full house and the same goes for the 1-2 loss to Matlama at Pitso Ground the following month.
Even Butha-Buthe was painted maroon-and-gold during a 2-1 win in May.
But Lioli’s passion was probably not more in evidence than on May 30 this year, when Teyateyaneng positively invaded Hlotse — that day when Bushy Moletsane and Malebanye Ramoabi became legends in Lioli folklore, scoring the goals that gave Tse Nala a 2-1 win over Joy and the league title.
It is also a day that will forever be etched in Lesotho’s history as a day that heralded the rebirth of football in Lesotho after years of absolute paucity.
Of course, it is has been easy to watch Lioli’s smooth and silky play, but the greatest pleasure of all has been to be part of the fans and the atmosphere they create at a match.
Hopefully, Lioli can keep on the same track.
Hopefully, before the end of the next decade, Lioli will have a proper stadium in Teyateyaneng where they will rock each weekend.
It is a mandate of those in charge at Lioli to see to it that this happens.
It is a mandate for those with any interest in the progression of football that this happens.
But this doesn’t end at Lioli — it should also happen at Linare, Swallows, Bantu and the glamour-boys, Matlama.
That is when football in Lesotho may cease to be a Sunday league.
Certainly fans of that team from Teyateyaneng deserve much better.

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