Lioli management on Monday held a crisis meeting to discuss the bitter fallout between head-coach Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu and technical director Halemakale Mahlaha.
The bad blood, which club sources say had been simmering for weeks, came to a head last week as Mokhothu boycotted training in protest over Mahlaha’s “interference” in his job.
After Lioli lost last weekend’s LNIG Top8 quarterfinal, second leg match against LCS at PTC Ground, club supporters ran amok as they demanded the resignation of the entire technical team, arguing their infighting was costing the team.
Lioli have only won one of their last five matches, allowing defending league champions Bantu to cut their seven-point lead on the 14-team Premiership table to three, with 10 games to go.
According to the fans, they fear should the status quo remain, the situation can only get worse and scupper the team’s chances of reclaiming the league title they surrendered to Bantu last season.
After last weekend’s 1-0 defeat to LCS ended Lioli’s chances of retaining the LNIG Top8 trophy, the fans could not hold their anger anymore and protested at the PTC Ground while calling for the removal of the entire technical team.
Lioli spokesperson, Moeketsi Pitso, on Tuesday confirmed the emergency meeting held in Maseru which he said was also attended by Mokhothu, Mahlaha and assistant coach Thabile Secker.
Pitso said: “It’s no longer a secret that there was a problem in our technical department as the coaches continued to clash over a number of issues. That is why we called yesterday’s meeting to hear what exactly was going on.
“We have managed to resolve the coaches’ differences and mapped the way forward, and one of the resolutions was making each of the coaches understand his role in the team.”
Pitso added he was confident fans would see the Lioli of old when they face highflying league rookies Likila United this weekend.
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“Understandably, the supporters were not happy with the team’s performance and now that the coaches’ differences have been addressed, we expect to get positive results again; we hope to see the old Lioli again,” said Pitso.
Meanwhile, according to a club source who spoke to the Lesotho Times on condition of anonymity, one of the major decisions taken during Monday’s meeting was that Mahlaha, who joined the club in August last year, would no longer attend training sessions “on a daily basis”.
The technical director is now only going to meet the coaches to strategise for matches and training programmes but would not conduct training sessions or bark instructions to players from the touchline on match-day, the source added.
Pitso on Tuesday admitted the club had to emphasise the need for the three men to stick to their respective job-descriptions.
“It has been made clear that Mokhothu and Secker are in charge of the team, while Mahlaha’s role was also clearly spelt out in yesterday’s meeting.
“We have no doubt that things are back to normal now, as the three coaches indicated they fully understood what was required of them going forward.”
Contacted for comment, Mokhothu said he was given a mandate to fulfil and clearly understood why he was at the Teyateyaneng-based club.
“There isn’t much to say about the whole issue, but I think each and every one of us was given a mandate and should act accordingly,” Mokhothu said.
Mahlaha, on the other hand, said the accusations against him were baseless.
“I know my responsibilities as technical director, and all these reports that I have been interfering with the coach, are not true at all,” said Mahlaha.
“There is a lot I can say about this issue but now is not the right time to do so.”