M200 000 not enough for champions

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Mikia Kalati

CHAMPIONS! LIOLI Players hoisting the Vodacom Premier League Trophy after a long campaign at Setsoto Stadium
CHAMPIONS! LIOLI Players hoisting the Vodacom Premier League Trophy after a long campaign at Setsoto Stadium

With the curtain coming down on Lesotho’s 2014/15 premier league campaign last weekend, I must say there were many talking points which made it a special football season indeed.

Among the issues under discussion were the many goals  scored, which made the fans extremely happy and helped maintain a decent presence  of supporters at the various stadiums.

For so long, we had complained about lack of goals in our elite league, but the strikers responded in kind, with the top-scorer, Litšepe Marabe, finding the back of the net 22 times in 24 matches.

This is the same guy who did not play competitive football at all last season while still with South African first division side, Garankuwa United due to work-permit issues.

Apart from Marabe, there was Phafa Tšosane in second position with 15 goals, while five or more other players also breached the 10-goal mark.

Such goal-fest brings excitement to our football, hence this season kept us at the edge of our seats till the very end, with Lioli winning the big prize.

Even teams promoted at the start of the campaign, namely Kick4Life and Likila United, had their players among the top scorers, with the former’s Thabiso Brown ending the season on 10 goals.

However, I never saw anything special in the goalkeeping department, and I guess this is why there is still no-one challenging veterans such as Mohau Kuenane, Liteboho Mokhesi and Kholuoe Phasumane, for Likuena’s first choice position.

Even in defence, the national team coach will agree with me that he has a headache to fill the gap left by veteran centre-back and captain, Moitheri Ntobo.

Last year, Ntobo had to be called out of retirement after he had hung-up his Likuena boots because the coaches could not find adequate replacement.

Meanwhile, although there were many improvements outside the pitch, I feel there is still a long way to go for our premier league and football administration as a whole.

The last premier league awards were not handled properly, for instance. I had expected a shortlist of players for the individual awards at least three to four games before the end of the season, which did not happen. I would have also thought there was going to be a panel of judges, that included reporters who cover these matches week in and week out, to choose the outstanding players, which was however, not the case.

The same thing has happened once again, which is unfortunate as I was thinking we had learnt from last season’s mistakes.

The free-flowing football aside, for teams like Nyenye Rovers, Qoaling Highlanders, LDF and Linare, this was but a nightmare of a season.

Rovers and Highlanders have since been relegated to the A Division while LDF and Linare failed to qualify for the annual Independence Cup or top-four competition.

Yet this is the same LDF side which once topped the 14-team table after going on a 13-match unbeaten run early in the season. This can only mean one thing—that this army side lacks quality when you compare it with LDF teams of yesteryear, which used to rule the domestic game.

For Linare, the club needs to get their house in order if they dream of becoming a force to reckon with once again.

It is totally unacceptable that such a big team has failed to win the league title for over three decades.

On a different note, I must also thank league-sponsors Vodacom, LNIG who bankroll the Top 8 tournament and Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho, which fund the Independence Cup.

These three competitions made this a memorable season as the giants of domestic football battled-it-out for honours.

However, I would like to make a humble appeal to these organisations to increase their sponsorship going forward.

I have a feeling our league has outgrown the monies that are being proffered as prizes, and can’t wait for the day when our teams will be getting M1million for winning a competition.

Nkhabutlane Motlokoa recently pocketed M250 000 for winning a race in South Africa, and this was all in a day’s work—in fact, less than three hours’ work. But it takes a whole team of footballers almost one year to win M200 000, hence my plea that this sponsorship be reviewed.

I have been in football for a long time in different portfolios and know that running a soccer team is very expensive, hence the need for the corporate sector to go the extra mile and increase prize monies.

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