Liphakoe in crisis  

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Liphakoe FC are in a state of crisis. This, unfortunately, ahead of a tricky Vodacom Premier League catch-up match against the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) FC at Ha Ratjomose tomorrow. The Quthing giants, Public Eye has heard, will have a small pool of players from which to select its starting line-up after the club parted ways with five unnamed players; and, adding to their woes, some left for greener pastures outside football, while others are out due to injuries.

The five players, sources added, have left because the club could no longer afford to pay them. Other Liphakoe players, sources said, are not be available for selection since they refuse to take the mandatory Covid-19 vaccine.   This paper has further learned that Liphakoe had already been paying players half salaries due to the Covid-19 lockdown which has resulted in the suspension of sports activities since March last year.

However, Liphakoe’s Communications and Marketing Manager, Tau Sebatli, told Public Eye earlier that only Thapelo Tale would not be available for the LDF game on Saturday due to injury, but the rest of the team’s players would be available. Thapelo Tale has his leg in plaster, according to both Sebatli and Liphakoe head coach, Mpitsa Marai.

“All of our players are available except only Thapelo Tale who has his leg in plaster,” said Sebatli in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday this week. Marai also confirmed: “Yes, he sustained an injury during one of our training sessions and he has his leg in plaster as a result.” Liphakoe’s next league game will be against the premier league rookies CCX FC away on January 16 next year.

Katiso Mohapi is also a doubtful starter for Liphakoe against LDF FC. Marai said the Lesotho Under-20 national team player sustained an injury while in camp with Bahlabani, the national Under-20. Sources also indicate that Liphakoe were only left with 14 players who could do duty, and that if Mohapi is unavailable for selection for the LDF game that would mean Marai will have only 13 players to select a team to face the army side.

Marai also confirmed that indeed some of his players have since secured employment elsewhere while others were scheduled for job interviews. “Mapheelle Mapheelle and Moeletsi Sephiri have new jobs, while Relebohile Moloinyane is going for a job interview in South Africa.” As if that is not enough, Marai said one of his players, Machicha Mokobocho, will also miss tomorrow’s game.

“Machicha Mokobocho will not be available for the LDF game. He is away attending to his brother’s burial.” To add more to Liphakoe’s woes is the fact that their South African goalkeeper, Lebohang Nkiane, missed two weeks training sessions as he has just arrived from his home country this week. Marai blamed all these challenges on the Covid-19 pandemic.

He, however, said they will have to soldier on without those players against LDF tomorrow, indicating that “this was always the challenge since the first Covid-19 lockdown. It was never easy for us. We did not know when and how to train under such conditions.” Liphakoe are lying on position nine on the 16-team Vodacom Premier League log table after collecting 20 points from 17 league matches.

Their opponents, LDF FC, are sitting on fifth position on 24 points from 12 matches. Marai said, unfortunately, his side returns to action against an LDF team with physical players and who never stop training. However, he said they would come up with a plan for their opponents come Saturday. “But football has no formula. We will come up with a plan for them on the day.”

LDF’s communications and Marketing Manager, Donny Ntakha, said they were ready for Liphakoe. Ntakha, who is also a former LDF player, said all of their players would be available for selection. “We are ready and all of our players are available,” said Ntakha. “It is up to the coach who will be playing on the day.”

In another league catch up match taking place tomorrow, Linare will welcome the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) FC at Maputsoe’s DiFA Stadium.   Linare are currently lying on position seven with 24 points from 15 matches, and LMPS on position 12 with 18 points from 13 matches. The league was last suspended indefinitely about five months ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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