The January transfer window closed on Friday, with players moving around the 14 premier league clubs, as has become the tradition in Lesotho, and indeed, most football leagues in the world.
Sunday Express (SE) Sports Reporter, Moorosi Tsiane, spoke with former Linare and Sundawana coach, Lehlohonolo ‘Freeze’ Ntene, about what happened during this much anticipated period.
SE: Not a very busy month, one could say, considering that this was the last chance for teams to reinforce their squads as they embark on the final stretch of the season. Let’s start with league champions Lioli. Apart from transfer-list want-away midfielder Thuso Shuping, the TY side were not active this window…
Ntene: Shuping is a good player and letting him go was not a good idea at all. I have watched him several times since his days at Likhopo and believe me that boy can be a valuable asset because his creativity is top notch. I am aware that he wanted to leave the team so since I don’t all the details about his issue, I will not dwell much on him.
SE: Do you think Lioli have a good team that can defend their league title and do well the other competitions, including the African Champions League?
Ntene: The major problem with our teams is they do not have long-term objectives and that is why we fail to compete with our continental counterparts. Lioli are one of the teams blessed with a pool of quality players. Yes, for this season, they can fight and maybe win one or two titles but with the aging players in their squad, I don’t see them this strong next season. It may also take them time to rebuild during this transition.
The other things is most of their players are versatile so this makes it easier for their coaches and I believe they are still strong to challenge any team. However, I think they should start introducing young blood for the sake of continuity.
SE: The country’s most successful team in terms of league titles, Matlama, have brought in former Bantu winger Hopolang Mohlalefi as a replacement for Mohau Khali. Could you say this was good business for Tse Putsoa and are they strong enough to win a record 10th league title? Again, what do you think of their decision to let their highly rated defender Nkau Lerotholi leave for LMPS?
Ntene: To be frank, I don’t think Matlama needed Hopolang; they have players of Mohau’s quality who only need to be given enough time to show what they are capable of. Mohlalefi is that kind of a player who is used to pressure football and Matlama are very patient with the ball and knock it around so he might struggle.
SE: An what about their decision to release the experienced Khali, Lerotholi and Isiah Mosala?
Ntene: I seriously think the departure of Nkau is a blow for Matlama because that is not the type of player you will not want to lose as a coach. The same applies to Mosala because if you look at their goalkeeping department, those two boys (Makhetha Thakeli and Thabiso Lichaba) are not consistent, so he was still needed as backup.
Mohau is a quality player but he is not a winger and not as skillful as Mohlalefi. I prefer him as a second striker so I believe he was being used in the wrong position. Well, it is also good for him that he left; I think he had been with Matlama for too long and maybe change will do him good.
One of the biggest worries for Matlama is that there is no stability in their technical team and they have to work on that. If Moses Maliehe leaves for the national team, I hope they will let Sello Seholo-holo and Mokoena Mohale lead the team because they have proved themselves before.
In: Hopolang Mohlalefi
Out: Nkau Lerotholi, Isaih Mosala, Tsolo Molibeli, Mohau Khali.
SE: LCS had been chasing after Bantu’s Mosiuoa Boseeka for a long time and finally, they managed to get him and scored on his debut in the 2-1 win over Linare. What is your take on his signing? Could LCS have found a solution to their playmaker problem?
Ntene: I was there on his debut; the boy was just a marvel to watch. He created the other goal while he was also on the scoresheet. Remember, he had spent about eight months on the sidelines because he had issues with Bantu, but I believe he is this season’s best signing for LCS; he can score and create goals. Fully fit, he can do whatever he wants with the ball and help the team win matches.
SE: You have mentioned before that local teams lack long-term objectives and here we see LCS releasing the veteran duo of defender Molefi Hlojeng and striker Thabana Rankara. From your line of reasoning, that should be good for the team…
Ntene: It’s good that they are releasing aging players to create space for youngsters, but they can’t afford to make wholesale changes. It’s good they are introducing young blood and mixing them with experienced players.
I think their team is balanced now with the combination of Lehloka Lieta, Thabang Rabi and Lawrence Molengoane upfront while they still have Moitheri Ntobo and Poloko Mohale at the back. I think they are going to finish in the top-four at least.
In: Mosiuoa Boseeka
Out: Molefi Hlojeng, Thabana Rankara.
SE: Your former team, Sundawana, has signed one of the most sought-after midfielders in the league, Sello Koetle. The team also signed Paballo Mafeka and Lekena Ntoi from Likila United and Galaxy respectively. Was this a wise decision by Sundawana?
Ntene: It was a wise move as it created competition for places. They were a good team already; they were just unlucky that they took time to click at the start of the season as most of them are new in the team.
I have also learnt that they have re-registered their former goalkeeper Lerata Tsalong and striker Arabelang Serobanyane while they have released Morena Moloi, Kheola Tsoenyane and Karabelo Lazaro. This shows the management has a vision for the team.
In: Sello Koetle, Paballo Mafeka, Lekena Ntoi, Lerata Tsalong, Arabelang Serobanyane.
Out: Karabelo Lazaro, Kheola Tsoenyane, Morena Moloi.
SE: Likhopo started the season well, but their performance dropped along the way. Do you think the signing of Khali, Tsolo Molibeli from Matlama and their former striker Seenyane Nthejane will bring consistency in this Shalane Lehohla-coached side?
Ntene: Lack of consistency is my main worry as far as Likhopo are concerned. They started well but dropped along the way. That shows there was something missing in the team, so the new signings might be what they needed, seeing that their chief striker, Thapelo Tale, is still AWOL.
The inclusion of former Matlama midfielder Nkopane Ntoi and Teboho Nthako will also help their midfield, but I am worried about their discipline.
In fact, this issue of discipline is very serious with our players.
In: Mohau Khali, Tsolo Molibeli, Teboho Nthako, Nkopane Ntoi, Seenyane Nthejane.
Out: Moesa Mofelehetsi, Chaka Maile, Motlatsi Rapita, Sefoli Ntoi, Relebohile Raotsi, Teleko Namane, Keke Damane, Tebello Ramohai.
SE: Bantu have boosted their squad with Likila winger Pheello Sephooana, Lebajoa Mosehlenyane from Linare, and Mosala from Matlama. Do you think we will see a better Bantu this time around after the team struggled in the first round of the season?
Ntene: They had their problems and did not start the season well but hiring and chopping coaches does not solve problems. Coming to their signings, there is no doubt that they made a good catch on the trio but Lebajoa is so exceptional.
His brace on debut testifies to his quality; he is that kind of player who can force a win and if they use him according to his strengths, Bantu will benefit a lot from him. Isiah is also a good signing especially after Phasumane left and with Liteboho Mokhesi no longer in the team.
In their first two matches of the second round, Bantu have scored eight times and I think that’s a positive sign.
In: Lebajoa Mosehlenyane, Pheello Sephooana, Isiah Mosala.
Out: Mangana Maoela, Hopolang Mohlalefi, Kholuoe Phasumane, Rethabile Rabele, Jeremane Lelia, Fidel Ntoya.
SE: Moving on to LDF; they have shaken up their aging squad by adding nine new players. Was this wise especially considering that we in the middle of the season?
Ntene: Restructuring is good but the timing is more important. LDF have one of the best coaches in this country but I do not think this was a wise move at all. They might not be able to bear the pressure that comes with the second round.
There is still a Top8 and Top4 finish to fight for, but bringing in that huge number of inexperienced players in a team is risky.
In: Tankiso Tometsi, Pitso Monaleli, Zanele Likana, Lebesa Lebesa, Tokelo Motseke, tseliso Chaba, Thabang Seaka, Napo Metla, Tšepo Lebata.
Out: Mokoena and Mokoenayane Moahloli, Relebohile Qejoa and Paseka Lebata.
SE: Kick4Life re-connected with their prodigal son Ntoya who left the side to join Bantu at the start of the season. Mokhanya Mokhanya, who was at Sky Battallion, is also back at the club. Do you think the Leslie Notši-coached side made good acquisitions there?
Ntene: One thing I like about that team is their administration. It is very clear and knows what the club wants. The advantage is that their team is made up of youngsters who have been playing together for a long time and the new signings are their former players so they can be the surprise package this season.
Ndoya is a good player; he scored twice also in his first match so that tells you what good player he is.
In: Mokhanya Mokhanya, Fidel Ntoya.
Out: Tumelo, Molefi Thahanyane, Katleho Mabetha, Tšepo.
SE: Rovers were also promising at the start of the season but like Likhopo their performance also declined. But surprisingly, they did not make any signings…
Ntene: I really can’t say what is wrong with that team but it is clear that there is something wrong. I believe finding an anchor and at least a target man could have been a wise move for them.
SE: Linare also did not make any new signings except appointing Motlatsi Shale as their new coach. What does this say about a team that has been struggling so much this season?
Ntene: You know when I talk about Linare I get very emotional because of many things. I was very shocked at first to learn that they had released Lebajoa, a player I recruited into that team.
He just added to the list of senior players who have been leaving that team in just two seasons. That also shows there is something wrong. Although Shale is a good coach, I do not think he will turn Linare’s fortunes around.
I see them fighting relegation again this year and remember they narrowly escaped last season.
SE: Rookies Liphakoe only made two signings in their striking department. Was that enough, in your view?
Ntene: They are playing total football; very comfortable on the ball but they lacked that last touch in the final third. They needed strikers and it’s good that they have made those two signings. At least they managed to identify their weaknesses and are working on rectifying them.
In: Motlatsi Nkhabu, Baphuti Matona.
SE: Struggling Likila have signed Moloi, Tsoenyane and Lazaro all from Sundawana on six-month deals. Can these players save this sinking ship from Qalo?
Ntene: Likila’s problems don’t start on the field of play and believe me, for as long as their administration keeps on working like they are doing this season they are heading straight into relegation.
Look at those players they have lost to Sundawana; that’s a worrying factor.
In: Morena Moloi, Kheola Tsoenyane, Karabelo Lazaro.
Out: Sello Koetle, Pheelo Sephooana, Ngoako Ngoako, Paballo Mafeka, Monatsi Monatsi.
SE: Mphatlalatsane were also quiet this transfer window. For a team in the relegation dogfight, was this not a surprise?
Ntene: Mphatlalatsane’s problem is more or less the same as Likila so that is obviously affecting the boys. I watched their two matches in which they conceded nine goals. I don’t see them escaping relegation this year.
Out: Moesa Mofelehetsi, Monaheng Rasiile.
SE: Bottom-of-the-table LMPS were the luckiest to get the biggest fish during this transfer window period when they signed Nkau from Matlama. But can he save this team?
Ntene: At the start of this season, they signed one of the best strikers in this country, Tšepo Seturumane, but look at where they are now. People may think Nkau will save that team but I beg to differ, especially with the pressure that is going to be on his shoulders as a Likuena player.
Like the other government teams, LMPS wait until it’s too late to change things so that affects them. It’s like they have no vision. Look at their track-record for the past three seasons, they have been fighting relegation.
Comments are closed.