Li­oli reap­ing re­wards for in­vest­ing in qual­ity

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

i WAS at Set­soto Sta­dium at the week­end where I watched the LNIG Top8 semi­fi­nals and fi­nal fea­tur­ing LCS, LDF, Bantu and even­tual win­ners Li­oli.

one of the things that came to my at­ten­tion was how Li­oli are ben­e­fit­ting from play­ers who played in­ter­na­tional foot­ball at an early stage of their ca­reers.

Tse Nala fielded eight play­ers who rep­re­sented Le­sotho at the 2011 african Youth Cham­pi­onship held in South africa, where un­for­tu­nately, our boys crashed out in the group stage of the un­der-20 tour­na­ment.

it goes with­out say­ing th­ese play­ers are now at their peak hence Li­oli’s vic­tory in the fi­nal and their dom­i­nance of do­mes­tic foot­ball over re­cent years.

Kananelo Makhooane, who was in goals at the week­end, was the first-choice goal­keeper for that un­der-20 side four years, while cen­tral de­fend­ers Ba­sia Makepe and Kopano Tseka also fea­tured in the team as did wing­backs Mafa More­mo­holo and Jerry Kamela.

The only dif­fer­ence is Kamela, who scored the only goal of the fi­nal as Li­oli beat LCS 1-0, now op­er­ates in mid­field along­side his for­mer un­der-20 team­mate, Tšoanelo Koe­tle.

For Makepe, not only is he now the Li­oli cap­tain but he has also been made na­tional team skip­per, which fur­ther high­lights the im­por­tance of early in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure.

Li­oli’s other play­ers who fea­tured for that 2011 na­tional ju­nior side are Lekhanya Lekhanya, Mon­toeli Sonopo and Sale­bone Lekhooa.

Again, seven of th­ese play­ers are also part of the Likuena squad that re­cently beat Sey­chelles 2-1 in the 2017 africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier at Set­soto.

My point here is Li­oli, who are clearly the best team in the Vo­da­com Premier League, are now ben­e­fit­ting from play­ers who know what it takes to com­pete at the high­est level of the in­ter­na­tional game.

The other mem­ber of that un­der-20 team who is now a key player for the na­tional team is Sepir­iti Male­fane of Bantu.

Over re­cent years, play­ers such as Tumelo Khut­lang, Bokang Sello, and Hlompho Kalake have come through the na­tional ju­nior team ranks and are now solid foot­ballers in their own right.

I strongly be­lieve if the Le­sotho Foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion could prop­erly nur­ture their re­cently-as­sem­bled un­der-15 School of Ex­cel­lence play­ers, then they would be in a posi- tion to even­tu­ally be­come a very strong na­tional team.

Ger­many is one of those coun­tries reap­ing the re­wards of a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment as their team that won the 2014 Fifa World Cup came through the youth ranks.

Hope­fully, our foot­ball lead­ers will see the need to put more em­pha­sis on proper de­vel­op­ment for play­ers.

There was also the group that played at the african Youth Cham­pi­onship held in Benin in 2005.

That team had the likes of Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana, Thabo Ma­su­alle, Tlali Maile, Katleho Moleko, Dlomo Mon­aphathi, and Tefo Maipato.

Th­ese play­ers went on to have long, suc­cess­ful ca­reers and hope­fully, the same will hap­pen to the Class of 2011.

‘Lefty’, for in­stance, went on to play in Tu­nisia while Maipato, Mon­aphathi and Moleko ended-up at or­lando Pi­rates in South Africa, al­beit with their de­vel­op­ment side.

How­ever, the fact that they at­tracted the at­ten­tion of such a big club showed the po­ten­tial was there and the play­ers had been given in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure at the right time. it is also worth not­ing that most of th­ese play­ers had come through the na­tional un­der-15 and u/17 side.

Jerry Kamela curles home the goal that won Li­oli the Top8 ti­tle against LCS on Sun­day at Set­soto Sta­dium. Li­oli coach Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu

Li­oli and LCS play­ers bat­tle for the big prize money in the LNIG Top 8 fi­nal.

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