We miss Tšoanelo: Thotanyana
UNDER fire Lioli coach, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, says his side’s performance has been dented by the absence of midfield kingpin, Tšoanelo Koetle, whose future is uncertain after FIFA barred him from playing this season.
The former Likuena midfielder has been in trouble since last year when he was accused of refusing to undergo a doping test.
Koetle was last year set to appear before a disciplinary hearing that was to be convened by the Lesotho National Olympic (LNCO) in its capacity as the local National Anti-Doping Organisation (NADO).
The player has also been side-lined from national duty pending finalisation of the case.
The LNOC was mandated by the World Anti-Doping Agency but Lioli challenged the matter through the country’s courts and won the case to have the player back in action during the 2017/18 season.
The matter has now reached FIFA who along with the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) have instructed Lioli not to use the player this season.
Tse Nala who boast five Premier League titles have endured a bad start this season having won three, drawn twice and lost one match. The side is fifth on the log.
“We are not a one man team but there are some players who make the whole team tick and one such player is Tšoanelo in our case,’ Thotanyana said.
“Truth be told, his absence from the team has left such a huge void and we are struggling in the midfield department.
“He was no longer an anchor for us but was playing in a more advanced position and we are struggling to fill that position.”
Thotanyana said the fact that Lioli also went through shake up at the end of last season and parted ways with many players among them midfielder Bushy Moletsane has worsened their situation.
The shake-up saw Lioli make 10 new signings among them goalkeeper Jessy Matsie, Paseka Khang, Stephanie Heyong, Teboho Ntlama, Lebo Sheleng (defenders), Hopolang Mohlalefi, Diutlwileng Boikanyo, Mokoena Monese Thabiso Mahola (midfielders) and a striker Sweartbirth Kum Bin join the team.
“We are going through a building phase. We are practically building a new team here with so many new players and I know it is not common for Lioli to be in this position now but it is going to take us time and we ask for a little patience from the supporters.
“Football can sometimes give you a false picture and we will win some matches but we are not there as yet.”
The former LeFA technical director who also led Lioli to a league triumph in the 2013/14 season hinted that they might be going back into the market in the January transfer window to boost his side especially the midfield and the striking departments.
Thotanyana also talked down league ambitions saying and said bitter rivals Bantu are still the favourites.
“We also have to be honest with ourselves and I don’t think we can win this season. The team that still has that potential is Bantu due to the quality they have in their side.
“It is not easy to get quality players because we will need to scout and buy them, which is costly but for now, most of our new signing came through open trials so in most cases open trials give you just average players,” Thotanyana said.