Mokhothu proving pedigree as a coach
Two coaches have already been fired six matches into the 2015/16 Vodacom Premier League season.
Katiso Mojakhomo was the first to be shown the door at Bantu last week following a string of unconvincing displays, while Sundawana followed suit over the weekend by sacking Freeze Ntene, also over poor results.
Based on the performance of these teams, it’s not surprising both Mojakhomo and Ntene have been released from their contracts so early into the season.
I don’t want to dwell too much on the plight of the two but instead, focus on a man who continues to do so well at club level. In-fact, one is tempted to say he has been the best coach in the country over the last half-a-decade or so, and that man is Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu currently with Lioli.
Mokhothu has won four league titles since 2008/09—first as an assistant at LCS before clinching back-to-back titles with the same Masheshena in 2011/12 and 2012/13 but now as head-coach. The affable but no-nonsense coach later moved to Lioli where he was champion again last season.
Tse Nala are on song as we speak, and look set to retain the league championship should they maintain their current form.
Among many attributes, I admire a humble coach with good man-management skills because that’s what you need to succeed at big clubs such as Bantu, Lioli and Matlama.
Lioli might have had the best squad in the league last season, resulting in the league title and Independence Cup. However, having excellent players does not guarantee a team silverware, which is where good managerial skills come in.
This campaign, Tse Nala have added quality players such as Lekhooa Salebone, Tumelong Khutlang, Thuso Suping and Kananelo Makhooane to their team.
It’s always healthy for a coach to have a big squad of quality players as the league championship is a marathon, while there are also knockout tournaments as well as continental competitions to think of. For instance, Lioli will be playing in the African Champions League tournament next year, hence the necessity of such a huge and quality team.
Yet a big squad can also come with many challenges such as indiscipline and divisions among the players, which could be very costly for the club at the end of the day.
It’s only when you have a character who is respected by the players that such things will not be an issue, and that is what Mokhothu has brought to Lioli.
For instance, Mokhothu must choose who to play among the three quality goalkeepers at his disposal—national team first-choice stopper Mohau Kuenane, 2014/15 goalkeeper of the season award-winner Liteboho Mokhehle and new acquisition Kananelo Makhooane. Makhooane, who joined the team from Likhopo this season, was once with the national team, Likuena, and is one of the most gifted goalkeepers in Lesotho at the moment.
The big question since Makhooane joined Lioli has been how Mokhothu was going to handle the pressure of choosing one goalkeeper over the others without creating tension among them.
I think it was only natural for fans to ask this question because such a situation can bring disharmony into a team. However, Shoes has handled the issue extremely well, rotating his players to keep them all happy.
Mokhothu is not only faced with this challenge in the goalkeeping department as the same goes for the midfield where senior players such as Motlalepula Mofolo, Bushy Moletsane and others have also had to settle for a place on the bench.
That is why I feel Mokhothu deserves credit for the way he has handled his big squad and is getting the best out of the players.
I believe this firm but fair management is going to be key when Tse Nala take to the international stage next year.
Mokhothu is a classic example of why a coach must be a role-model, humble and lead by example because the results are there for everyone to see.
And like Mokhothu, I’m also impressed with new Likhopo coach, Shalane Lehohla.
The former Likuena, Likhopo and LCS midfielder was appointed head-coach at the start of the season and did not have enough time for preseason training with his new charges.
But the Red Army have been unbelievable under Lehohla, and are second with 14 points on the 14-team premiership table, just two points behind log-leaders Lioli.
I believe this is their best start in four seasons and what makes it even more interesting is Shalane’s admission that he is still learning the ropes. I believe this humble attitude will help him grow and become one of the best coaches Lesotho has ever had.
Unfortunately, we have to end this column on a tragic note following the death of Linare defender, Lebohang Matamane, in a car accident on Sunday.
Matamane passed away a day after playing for Tse Tala in their 0-1 loss to Kick4Life in Maseru. It is always so sad when a young life is lost, especially under such circumstances.
On behalf of the Lesotho Times’ sports desk, I would therefore, wish to pass our condolences to the Matamane family. May His Soul Rest In Peace.