Huge expectations for new coaches

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MikiaMikia Kalati

The big guns of domestic football have been very busy on the transfer market, setting the stage for a potentially bruising and exciting 2015/16 Vodacom Premier League season.

Bantu, LCS, Linare and Matlama have brought in new technical teams and players ahead of the season which kicks-off on 22 August.

This merry-go-around has brought so much excitement among fans who now cannot wait for the topflight campaign to get underway.

Perhaps the most interesting development is at Matlama, where the Sea Point outfit have changed their technical team less than a month after sacking veteran coach Ntebele ‘Mocholene’ Taole and replacing him with Lehlohonolo ‘Killer’ Mokhele.

It’s true Matlama made it clear Mokhele was in the job on an interim basis, but still, it came as a surprise that management decided to bring in a new coach, Moses Maliehe, before their legendary midfielder could prove himself.

This early change of mind could be a sign Tse Putsoa did not want to gamble and felt Mokhele was not yet ready for the hot seat.

Maliehe himself comes with an impressive CV after doing very well as national under-20 team coach, while he was also in charge of the national ‘B’ side that impressed against Bafana Bafana in a friendly match in May this year.

However, coaching Matlama is one of the most difficult tasks in Lesotho football because the fans are not patient and expect the team to win every match.

Of course, the other challenge for Maliehe would be assembling a squad capable of keeping pace with bitter rivals Bantu and Lioli, as Tse Putsoa have not won a major trophy in three seasons now.

Yet Maliehe is not the only one new in his coaching job as Bantu last week announced Katiso Mojakhomo as their new mentor, replacing the highly successful Motlatsi Shale.

Shale was the man who ended Bantu’s 87-year wait for their first premier league title in 2013/14—his debut season with A Matšo Matebele—and also led the team to the Independence Cup the same campaign. Last season, Shale took the Mafeteng outfit to the LNIG Top8 championship and the fact that he was so successful means Mojakhomo would be under pressure to deliver.

The arrival of Mojakhomo has also seen Bantu announce a major shake-up to their squad, with eleven new players being signed and eight leaving the side.

This, on its own, is another challenge as Mojakhomo must come up with a winning combination as a matter urgency.

The same goes for new Linare coach Lebajoa Mphongoa, who would be expected to save the sinking ship that the Hlotse-based side has become.

Tse Tala have been on decline over the years and last won the league title in 1980.

This, for me, is unacceptable because this team is based in a district which has produced some of the country’s best players and I hope the appointment of the former Likuena and Bloemfontein Celtic striker is going to restore Linare’s lost pride.

Among the many challenges Mphongona and Linare face is convincing former captain Mabuti Potloane to return to his childhood club after the midfielder spent the second round of the previous season on loan at Matlama.

There is no doubt that Potloane used to make Linare tick and could surely help in the revival of the team.

New LCS coach, Mpitsa Marai, is another man who could be in for a baptism of fire as he prepares for his first-ever season as head-coach. However, the worst thing for him is he begins his coaching journey with a big team like Mashesehna whose illustrious history means the fans expect success and not excuse from the players and technical department.

The former national team defender has worked in the LCS  technical department in the past but as an assistant, before assuming the same role at Bantu over the last two seasons.

Marai takes over a youthful side which finished third on the 14-team premier league table last season—behind champions Lioli and Bantu—and expectations are he maintains the same standards or better still, makes LCS the team to beat in 2015/16.

As things stand, it looks like Lioli would be starting the season as favourites to retain their league title and one of the reasons for this prediction is they still have the same coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, who brought them the championship last season.

In addition, Lioli have a very balanced squad of young and experienced players, yet football has, on many occasions, proved to be a very fickle sport whose outcome is not easy to predict.

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