Once upon a time, there was a formidable football club called Linare.
Linare are based in Hlotse district and have produced some of the best footballers to have ever graced the local game.
Yet the team is now a pale shadow of that indomitable side of yesteryear and as we speak, are still chasing their first win since the second round of the 2015/16 season got underway in January this year.
With eight matches to play before their league campaign comes to a close, Linare find themselves ninth on the 14-team premiership table—a sad fall from grace for a team which used to be counted among the great sides of Lesotho football.
While it is always easy to blame coaches and players when a team is struggling, I don’t think this should be the case with Linare. This is because their top players have been leaving the team over recent years due to lack of ambition by the management.
I actually feel the team is a bit stable under Motlatsi Shale who took over the coaching reins in January this year.
But still, Linare are not at the same level with LCS, Lioli and Bantu when it comes to the quality of their players. And neither do they compare with these three sides when it comes to the way the club is administered, which makes the coach’s job that much harder.
This is a side that has produced great players such as Emmanuel ‘Garrincha’ Phamotse, Thulo ‘Magic Touch’ Leboela and in recent years, the likes of Kabelo Mosothoane and Mabuti Potloane.
‘Magic Touch’ and ‘Garincha’ were as good as any player of their generation, hence those sweet nicknames.
Luckily for Leboela, his talent did not go unnoticed as he went on to join South African outfit Blackpool in the 1980s where he played alongside great players such as the late John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu and Fani Madida.
Like I said, it is a shame a team with such a rich history has now become a laughing stock in the premier league and if things do not change fast, they will end up disintegrating just like what happened to Arsenal and Mazenod.
The fact that Linare have now gone over three decades without winning a league title says a lot about this side’s decline over the years.
This is why I feel Leribe residents, and those who played for this team, should do something to save Linare from collapse.
The most urgent thing this team needs is financial muscle for it to compete for top players with the other big guns who have managed to attract corporate sponsorship.
I strongly feel the people of Leribe have not been united in helping Linare overcome the demons that have seen the team go for so many years without a major trophy, with their last league title coming way back in 1980.
The same lack of support goes for other Leribe district teams, Nyenye Rovers and Mphatlalatsane, that have been going up and down the premier league and A division.
The struggles of both Nyenye and Mphatlalatsane also point to lack of quality players as well as poor administration.
As for Nyenye Rovers, the team’s first division franchise has now been sold to Limkokwing University, while Mphatlalatsane look to be on their way back to the lower division from the premier league after surviving the axe last season.
The St Monica’s based side are bottom of the Vodacom Premier League table with just 12 points in 19 games. They only have seven matches to save their topflight league status, which is a tall order whichever way one looks at it.
My point here is there is no need to have so many teams in one district when all of them continue to struggle.
I hope for the sake of Leribe district that all the people who have served this game before will come together and make Linare a force to reckon with once again.
Leribe also happens to be where recently-elected Sports Commission president, Khiba Mohoanyane, comes from and he is also the vice-president of the Lesotho Football Association.
My prayer is that he should do something about football in Leribe because if he does not, I can only foresee doom in that district, as far as the game is concerned.
The truth of the matter is our football is more enjoyable when Matlama, Bantu, Linare, Lioli and all the top guns are at their best and there is no outright winner before the season is not even halfway through.
This was the case during the 2013/14 season when Linare were in the league title race, but in the end, finished third on the table behind Bantu and Lioli respectively, while they also reached the final of the LNIG Top8, only to lose the trophy to Tse Nala.
Not only did the performance of Linare during that season make the people of Hlotse fall in love with their team again, the players were also catching the attention of Likuena coachs with the likes of Potloane, Dyke Tšiu, Tšiu Moorosi and Kopano Motaung becoming regulars.
That season, Potloane was crowned Vodacom Premier League Player of the Season, but unfortunately, he has since joined Matlama while Tšiu, Moorosi and Motaung have also quit the club.