Sun­dawana boss in ti­tle talk

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati Mikia Kalati

SOME of the world’s top bik­ers will be in town to­day as the 2015 edi­tion of the Roof of Africa gets un­der­way at Maseru Club.

Dubbed the world’s tough­est off-road mo­tor­cy­cle races due to its route through Le­sotho’s rugged ter­rain, the Roof be­gins with bik­ers rac­ing around the city’s sub­urbs be­fore roar­ing into the coun­try­side for four days of tough rid­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Le­sotho Off-road As­so­ci­a­tion pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, Keketso Malebo, some of the rid­ers ar­rived in the coun­try as early as Mon­day ahead of yes­ter­day’s reg­is­tra­tion and me­dia in­ter­views.

Malebo said 400 rid­ers had ini­tially reg­is­tered for the race but some had pulled out due to in­juries. He could im­me­di­ately say how many rid­ers would be tak­ing part.

“Ev­ery­thing is in place for the race and as usual, we ex­pect a very com­pet­i­tive bat­tle es­pe­cially be­tween pre­vi­ous win­ners of this event,” Malebo said.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Wade Young of South Africa, and for­mer win­ner Jarvis Gra­ham, are among the big-name rid­ers head­lin­ing this year’s event.

Young, now aged 19, made his­tory when he be­came the youngest rider to win the race when he was only 16 in 2012.

Mean­while, Le­sotho will have their high­est-ever num­ber of rid­ers in the race.

Last year, Mo­lamu Moro­jele, Ba­sia Maseatile, and Joseph Mo­te­nane rep­re­sented the coun­try in the Roof, but they are joined by ‘Muso Mohla­hatse and Vic­tor Matekane this time around.

“It is very en­cour­ag­ing to see our rep­re­sen­ta­tion grow­ing and that is why I want peo­ple to come and see the rid­ers per­form es­pe­cially when the race starts at Maseru Club,” said Malebo.

“This is where rid­ers cre­ate such a spec­ta­cle and dis­play their tal­ents.

“I be­lieve this is some­thing worth see­ing, es­pe­cially for the young­sters, so I call on them to come in big num­bers to see what pro­fes­sion­als do with a bike.”

The win­ner of the main race takes home M180 000. Sun­dawana Foot­ball Club owner, Thato nkone ( pic­tured), be­lieves his team can win the premier league ti­tle this sea­son.

The Butha-buthe out­fit are third on the 14-team premier­ship ta­ble and Nkone is con­fi­dent the team has the qual­ity to go all the way and clinch their maiden topflight league ti­tle.

Sun­dawana are on a six-match win­ning streak and last week­end, beat pow­er­house Bantu 1-0 in Mafeteng to un­der­line their strength.

Af­ter Satur­day’s stun­ning win, Sun­dawana moved into third place on the ta­ble and have the same 21 points with de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Li­oli.

How­ever, Li­oli have only played 10 matches while Sun­dawana are on 12. Pace­set­ters Mat­lama have played 10 matches and are on 23 points, while fourth-placed Likhopo have played 10 matches and are on 18 points. LCS also have 18 points from 10 matches, mak­ing it a tight con­test in the top half of the ta­ble.

And ac­cord­ing to Nkone, he is con­fi­dent his team has the class to win the league cham­pi­onship this sea­son, and is pre­pared to do what­ever is nec­es­sary for this to hap­pen.

“We are very de­lighted with the per­for­mance of the team and I be­lieve they are gen­uine con­tenders for the league ti­tle,” Nkone told the Le­sotho Times.

“Our goal now is to win ev­ery match and I will do all it takes to sup­port my team.”

Nkone, who sur­prised many when he pur­chased the premier­ship fran­chise of Mpha­rane Celtic last sea­son, re­named the team Sun­dawana and moved its base to Butha-buthe, says he has great am­bi­tions for his side.

“I want to make this team a force to reckon with not just here in Le­sotho but also in­ter­na­tion­ally,” said Nkone.

“I will buy the best avail­able tal­ent in this coun­try and out­side be­cause the plan is to make this team the best in Le­sotho.

“The am­bi­tion is to win the league ti­tle, play in African com­pe­ti­tions and be­come a big team on the con­ti­nent.”

How­ever, Nkone also paid trib­ute to head­coach Bob Mafoso.

“The coach has turned things around since he took over in Au­gust,” Nkone said.

“The play­ers have also done their part and I’m very proud of their achieve­ments so far.

“I will splash the cash if there is need to re­in­force the squad in Jan­uary be­cause like I said, we want to be the best team in Le­sotho.”

On his part, Mafoso at­trib­uted team­work to the good per­for­mances, as well as good for­tune.

“I think it is a com­bi­na­tion of dif­fer­ent things — the play­ers are mo­ti­vated and luck has also been on our side,” Mo­foso said.

“with­out putting pres­sure on our­selves, we need to en­joy this good run. We will keep work­ing hard to see where it gets us and take it from there.”

Mafoso also said what makes his job eas­ier is the play­ers’ will­ing­ness to learn.

Sun­dawana have also ben­e­fit­ted from the ex­cel­lent form of for­mer Likhopo mid­fielder, Ma­jalefa Tšoeu, and striker Raboena Koloti. Koloti scored his sev­enth league goal of the sea­son in the win over Bantu to move into se­cond place on the scor­ing charts — one strike be­hind Likhopo’s Lehlomela

Ram­a­bele.

Wade Young on his way to vic­tory in 2012.

Pics by Elza Thiart

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