A year to re­mem­ber!

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

A great sport­ing year is com­ing to a close — a year in which Le­sotho came so close to rewrit­ing the his­tory books.

How­ever, a loss of fo­cus in the clos­ing stage of the 2015 Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) qual­i­fiers saw Le­sotho’s dream of mak­ing a maiden ap­pear­ance in the bi­en­nial cham­pi­onship, go­ing up in smoke.

Be­low are more de­tails of this piece of bad news as well as some of the no­table sport­ing events that took place in Le­sotho in 2014.

Jan­uary: Leslie Notši resigns as na­tional team coach, along­side his as­sis­tant, Lehlo­honolo thotanyana. the pair join South African First Di­vi­sion side garankuwa United. Notši had led Likuena, as the na­tional foot­ball team is pop­u­larly known, to fourth-place at the re­gional Cosafa tour­na­ment held in Zam­bia in De­cem­ber 2013, while the team had fin­ished that year on a high note after beat­ing Su­dan 3-1 in Khartoum in their last 2014 World Cup qual­i­fier.

Likuena fin­ished third in the qual­i­fy­ing group be­hind ghana ana and Zam­bia.

Fe­bru­ary: Likhopo owner and coach, Bishop Mo­la­toli dies afterfter a short ill­ness, leav­ing the footoot­ball fra­ter­nity in shock. Mo­la­toli­toli played for Mat­lama and after fter found­ing Likhopo, pro­duced some ome of Le­sotho’s finest tal­ent such as Bokang Mothoana, Katleho Mole­oleko and thapelo tale.

Fe­bru­ary ends with Li­oli winin­ning the first tour­na­ment of thehe year, beat­ing Linare 3-0 at Settsoto Sta­dium to lift the LNIGg top 8 trophy and pock­et­ing M400 000 in the process.

March: the Le­sotho Footoot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Lefa) ap­point oint Seep­hephe Matete the se­nior na­tional team in­terim coach, as Likuena were pre­par­ing for the 2015 Af­con qual­i­fiers.

April: Sprint King, Mos­ito Le­hata, makes head­lines at his Mau­ri­tius base as he pre­pares for the 2014 Com­mon­wealth games held three months later in Scot­land.

It was also in April when crack long dis­tance run­ner, Lebenya Nkoka, won Cape town’s two Oceans Marathon, and tak­ing home the first prize of M100 000.

Also in April, Lefa sec­ond vice- pres­i­dent, Le­bo­hang thotanyana, quit his po­si­tion fol­low­ing a con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that he lost to Sale­mane Phafane. May: the 2013/14 Vodacom Le­sotho Premier League sea­son comes to a close, with Bantu end­ing their 87year wait for their first league ti­tle.

Kick­4life and Lik­ila United also won the A Di­vi­sion South­ern and North­ern streams re­spec­tively, to gain au­to­matic pro­mo­tion to the Premier League. June: Likuena be­gin their 2015 Af­con cam­paign, elim­i­nat­ing Liberia and Kenya to qual­ify for the group stage of the cam­paign.

Le­sotho were then put into group C along­side An­gola, Burk­ina Faso and gabon.

Dur­ing the qual­i­fiers, lo­cal fans saw, for the first time, the tal­ents of Jane ‘Sunny’ tšotleho, who is based in the United States.

tšotleho left the coun­try as a 13-year-old and had been play­ing his foot­ball in the Amer­i­can thirdtier league with Wilm­ing­ton Ham­mer­heads FC, when he was called up for na­tional duty.

July: the na­tional un­der-20 team, Makoanyane XI, em­bark on their 2015 African Youth Cham­pi­onship qual­i­fiers.

the Moses Maliehe-coached side elim­i­nated Swazi­land in the first round, be­fore knock­ing out An­gola in the next, but failed to hon­our their third round fix­ture against Nige­ria.

Lefa said the team could not travel to Nige­ria for the match due to an out­break of the ebola virus in the West African na­tion.

the Com­mon­wealth games also kicked-off in glas­gow, but team Le­sotho had noth­ing to show for their par­tic­i­pa­tion as the ath­letes came back empty-handed.

How­ever, the high­light of the games, from a lo­cal per­spec­tive, was when Mos­ito Le­hata reached the fi­nal of the 200-me­tre race, but sus­tained an an­kle in­jury which saw him nar­rowly miss out on a medal as he ended the event in fourth po­si­tion.

Au­gust: Lefa an­nounce they are broke to fi­nance Likuena’s Af­con group stage matches and the team ends up leav­ing for the open­ing match against Burk­ina Faso with­out proper train­ing and sub­se­quently lose the tie 2-0.

Au­gust also saw the 2014/15 Vodacom Premier League sea­son get un­der­way.

Septem­ber: Stan­dard Le­sotho Bank and Met­ro­pol­i­tan Le­sotho an­nounce im­proved spon­sor­ship for this year’s In­de­pen­dence Cup tour­na­ment.

the tour­na­ment was then played in Oc­to­ber with Li­oli win­ning it 11-10 on penal­ties in the fi­nal, against Mat­lama.

Bantu, who were the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, had lost in the semi­fi­nal to Mat­lama.

this was the sec­ond ti­tle of the year for Li­oli, who had won the LNIG top 8 trophy in Fe­bru­ary.

Novem­ber: Likuena end the 2015 Af­con cam­paign with three backto back de­feats fol­low­ing a bonus row with Lefa.

the same month, Notši left garankuwa United fol­low­ing a string of poor re­sults.

Lo­cal ath­letes also failed to make a mark at the Soweto Marathon with Mot­lokoa Nkhabut­lane, the high­est-placed, only man­ag­ing sec­ond place in the male cat­e­gory. Seven-time win­ner of the race, Mamoroallo tjoka, did not take part in the event due to in­jury.

De­cem­ber: tjoka and Lebenya Nkoka win the 2014 High Al­ti­tude Sum­mer Marathon, each walk­ing away M100 000 richer.

The first round of the Premier League also ended this month, with Li­oli at the top of the charts, and en­joy­ing a seven-point ad­van­tage over de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Bantu, who are in sec­ond spot.

A Di­vi­sion side Liphakoe also ended the year on a high after win­ning all their nine first-round matches.

the team only con­ceded one goal in those nine matches.

the Le­sotho team which took part in the African Union Sports Coun­cil re­gion 5 games held in Zim­babwe also did fairly well, bring­ing home 12 medals from the un­der-20s event.

Mamoroallo tjoka

Na­tional team likuena

Mos­ito le­hata

IN this file pic­ture, Li­oli sup­port­ers cel­e­brate after their tie against Bantu in Mafeteng.

lefa Newly ap­pointed tech­ni­cal Di­rec­tor Lehlo­hololo thotanyane.

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