Liphakoe tactical brilliance shakes up Vodacom Premier League


…as the team overcomes financial struggles to secure draw against league leaders Matlama


MASERU – Liphakoe co-coach, Kabelo Tšukulu unveiled the tactical prowess that allowed his financially struggling team to secure a commendable 1-1 draw against league contenders, Matlama at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena last Sunday. Matlama took the lead with Salebone Lekhooa’s header in the 66th minute, only for Liphakoe to level the score with a precise strike from Manosa Mapheelle in the 87th minute.

Tšukulu disclosed the strategic adjustment made after Matlama’s goal, with Mapheelle shifting from a left-back position to serve as a twin striker alongside newly signed forward, Desire Olomo from Cameroon. Liphakoe’s alternative game plan proved successful, with Mapheelle, now in an attacking role, securing a crucial goal at the right moment to secure a valuable point for the financially troubled team. The goal-scoring play involved a pivotal contribution from Olomo, making his debut for Liphakoe and showcasing an immediate partnership with Mapheelle in the striking department against Matlama.

“We had to alter our game plan after conceding a goal, opting to trade our left-back for a striking position to field twin strikers,” said Tšukulu in a post-match interview with Public Eye. “When you find yourself trailing, especially post-halftime, you must take risks. Defensive concerns take a backseat, and you focus on creating opportunities. Fortunately for us, the player we relocated to a striking position delivered the crucial goal for our team.”

Tšukulu also disclosed that Liphakoe faced training constraints leading up to the Matlama game due to financial difficulties. “Our initial game plan was formulated under the circumstances of our bankruptcy, which hindered our training sessions. We only managed to participate in one friendly game on Wednesday, resulting in our players being inactive for almost a week.”

He further elaborated on the tactical approach: “So, our strategy was to stay defensively compact and manage the clock, aiming to capitalise on counterattacks. Engaging in a direct confrontation with them, pound for pound, could have led to our collapse during the game.” Tšukulu emphasised that Liphakoe’s financial struggles had significantly disrupted their regular training routine, making it a considerable duration since the team had been able to engage in consistent training sessions.

“It has been quite a while since we had regular training, and unfortunately, we have become accustomed to it due to the financial constraints we face. The limited funds available to the club are primarily allocated to covering players’ rent,” he said. Despite the challenges, he expressed optimism for a positive change, particularly after their surprising performance against Matlama. “I believe things will improve after this match, though I am not suggesting we can suddenly afford a full week of training. I am hopeful that we can, at the very least, manage three days of training sessions,” he said.

Tšukulu also anticipated an improved performance for Liphakoe with the addition of Cameroonian striker Olomo. “I am optimistic that moving forward, we will see positive changes with the inclusion of our recently signed striker from Cameroon. In his debut game, he made a crucial contribution by assisting in our equalising goal against Matlama. “This signifies our enhanced competitiveness this season, now that we have a dedicated striker. We anticipate being more effective in reaching our opponents’ goals, unlike before, when our young strikers often struggled under pressure.”

Prior to facing Liphakoe last Sunday, Matlama held the top spot on the 16-team Vodacom Premier League log table.

However, a draw against Liphakoe saw Tse-Putsoa relinquish their pole position on the league ladder, slipping to the second spot. Lioli capitalised on the opportunity and moved up from second to first position after securing a 2-1 victory against Manonyane at home on the same day. Liphakoe are gearing up for another challenging match against Lioli this weekend. Tšukulu expressed confidence that his team would enter the Lioli match with high spirits following their commendable draw against Matlama. “We are pleased with today’s draw, particularly against a formidable team like Matlama. This serves as significant motivation heading into the Lioli match,” he said. On the other side, Matlama coach Halemakale Mahlaha lamented his team’s missed opportunities despite dominating the play, especially in the first half.

“We did not perform well despite our early dominance. Unfortunately, we were unable to seal the game and lacked defensive solidity,” Mahlaha said in a post-match interview. Acknowledging lapses in concentration in the dying minutes of the game, Mahlaha expressed disappointment at conceding the equalising goal to Liphakoe. He said: “Overall, we had our chances, but we failed to capitalise on them.” This marked the second consecutive draw for Matlama, following a 1-1 deadlock against Lifofane away from home on February 24. Mahlaha expressed frustration at the recurring theme of missed opportunities, adding: “It is becoming a recurring issue for us. Week in and week out, we squander numerous chances, and I cannot comprehend what is happening.”

Mahlaha pointed out specific instances of poor decision-making, citing missed opportunities in the box during the first half. Concerned about conceding a soft goal against Liphakoe, he emphasised the need to assess and address the team’s defensive shortcomings. “I am dissatisfied with how we conceded. It was a soft goal. We need to go back to the drawing board to identify the problem and work on rectifying it,” Mahlaha said. Matlama host LDF FC at Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena this Saturday.

VPL weekend fixture at a glance


Manonyane vs. LMPS FC (Nyakosoba)

LU FC vs. CCX FC (Ratjomose Ground)

Lijabatho vs. Lifofane (Morija Ground)

Matlama vs. LDF FC (Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena)


LCS FC vs. Lioli (LCS Ground)

Naughty Boys vs. Liphakoe (Leshoboro Stadium)

Bantu vs. Machokha (DiFA Mohale’s Hoek Stadium)

ACE Maseru vs. Linare (Ratjomose Ground)

Kick-off is at 16:00 for all these matches.

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