Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Swallows win promotion to Econet Premier League

Swallows have won the 2017/18 A-Division South Stream finishing
three points ahead of Lithabaneng Golden

Swallows have been promoted to the Econet Premier League after beating Rovers 2-1 in Roma on Sunday on the final day of the South Stream season.

The victory gave Swallows the title ahead of their nearest challengers Lithabaneng Golden who could only manage a 1-1 draw with Manonyane in Lithabaneng.

The results mean Swallows finished the campaign three points ahead of Lithabaneng Golden who will now enter the Econet Premiership promotion playoffs alongside North Stream runners up Ketane and the 12th placed finishers in the top-flight.

Wrapping up the South Stream crown is a big relief for Swallows.

Lebohang Matobo’s charges had slipped up in the run-in drawing 1-1 with Quthing LMPS and then losing 2-0 to Machokha in their last two games to see their six-point lead at the top of the South Stream cut to one point heading into the final day of the season.

The sudden and unexpected dip had raised Lithabaneng Golden’s hopes and revived the memories of recent disappointments for Swallows most notably last season when Maswai-swai were beaten to promotion by Majantja on the last day of the campaign.

However, by finally finishing the job in Roma, Swallows have clinched a return to Lesotho’s elite league for the first time since they were relegated in 2011.

Swallows join North Stream champions Galaxy who already secured their ticket to the Econet Premier League’s Promised Land by winning the northern section of the first division at the end of March.

Recent South Stream champions:
2013/14: Kick4Life
2014/15: Liphakoe
2015/16: Sky Battalion
2016/17: Majantja
2017/18: Swallows

Econet Premier League Standings


The Econet Premier League standings after the weekend’s action: It was a good weekend for Bantu who extended their lead at the top of the table to four points with five matches to go.
It was also a good weekend for LDF and LCS in the race for the top four.

Both teams are now within three points of fourth-placed Kick4Life.

Weekend Results:
Saturday
LMPS 0-1 Bantu
Likhopo 1-1 Liphakoe
LDF 2-1 Kick4Life
Sunday
LCS 4-1 Sky Battalion
Sefotha-fotha 1-1 Linare

#EconetPrem #AllToPlayFor #EveryPointCounts

Friday, April 20, 2018

Lesotho volleyball champs Red Skins glad for African Club Championship learning experience

Red Skins battled Africa's best volleyball clubs in Egypt

Lesotho volleyball champions Red Skins say they learned a lot from their recent experience at the 2018 Men’s African Club Championship.

Red Skins finished 24th out of 24 teams at the continental championships which were held in Egypt from March 27 to April 4 but say they will use the outing to improve.

Red Skins qualified for the tournament by claiming third place at the 2017 African Zone 6 Club Championships in December and the trip to Egypt was Red Skins’ and Lesotho’s first appearance at the continental volleyball games since 2011.

Things didn’t go as planned, however.

Red Skins were drawn in Group A against Prisons from Kenya, Uganda’s Nemo Stars, Espoir of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast’s AS Police and record 13-time champions, Al Ahly from Egypt.

Red Skins were overmatched all the way through. They lost each group game 3-0 and finished bottom of the group.

Following their group stage performance Red Skins were demoted to the placing competition where they lost to Port of Cameroon in the playoff for 17th position before eventually falling to Finances of Benin in the match to determine last place.

Nevertheless, Red Skins coach Tšepo Raletooane said the team gave their best.

We were in one of the toughest groups against the heavyweights and the level of competition was very high. We gave it our all but unfortunately we lost,” he said.

Raletooane added that the experience of the African Club Championship was priceless.

“We come back home with this experience and we will use it to build Red Skins into a better side going forward,” he said. “All the teams that were in our group had played in this tournament at least five times in a row so you can just imagine the huge gap between them and us.”

"It was a good learning experience."
Raletooane, however, also pointed to the side’s poor preparations due to a lack of funding as a reason for Red Skins finishing with the wooden spoon.

“We tried to prepare but unfortunately our performance reflected how we prepared. Clearly, we did not prepare as well as our opponents,” he said.

Nonetheless, Red Skins experienced a stage in Egypt that they rarely encounter. For example, in the local Metropolitan premier volleyball league the side often play their games in front of a handful of spectators.

Red Skins’ group stage game against eventual African Club Championship champions and home favourites Al Ahly was played in front of 2000 people.

Red Skins’ group stage results:
Group A


P
W
L
Pts.
1
Ahly (Egypt)
5
5
0
15
2
Prisons (Kenya)
5
4
1
12
3
Espoir (DR Congo)
5
3
2
9
4
Nemo Stars (Uganda)
5
2
3
5
5
As Police (Ivory Cost)
5
1
4
4
6
Red Skins (Lesotho)
5
0
5
0

Date
Match
Sets
Total
Points
Time
Audience
1
2
3
27 March
Prisons 3-0 Red Skins
25-15
25-14
25-22
75-51
1:15
300
28 March
Nemo 3-0 Red Skins
25-21
25-19
25-13
75-53
1:18
20
29 March
Red Skins 0-3 Espoir
14-25
22-25
19-25
55-75
1:20
50
30 March
Ahly 3-0 Red Skins
25-5
25-9
25-16
75-30
1:05
2,000
31 March
Red Skins 0-3 AS Police
17-25
19-25
14-25
50-75
1:18
50

Monday, April 16, 2018

Econet Premier League title race down to two

Bantu are in pole position to win the Econet Premier League title
but Lioli are right behind...

The Econet Premier League title race is officially a two horse race. With just five rounds to go until the end of the season, Bantu and Lioli claimed wins over the weekend that have opened a gap to Matlama in the title chase.

Lioli are second on the log standings with 41 points, five ahead of Matlama while champions Bantu are top with 42 points and have a game in hand on Tse Putsoa who were crowned LNIG Top 8 champions last weekend.

All things considered, Matlama would need a miracle to add to their LNIG Top 8 conquest.

Bantu are still well control of the title race.

Although the Mafeteng giants are just a point ahead of Lioli, they also have a game in hand. In addition, Bantu and Tse Nala are scheduled to face off at the end of this month and all Bantu really need to do is avoid defeat and they would be within reach of winning back-to-back league titles, something only Matlama, Linare, LDF, Likhopo, LCS and Lioli have achieved.

A Matšo Matebele are in this position of strength after again showing their admirable ability to bounce back on Sunday when they beat Kick4Life 2-1 at the LCS Stadium.

The win came after Bantu suffered an agonising defeat in the LNIG Top 8 final to Matlama last weekend and it came against a strong Kick4Life side that had won four of the previous five meetings between the sides.

Kick4Life had also gone into Sunday’s without a defeat in the league since losing 1-0 to LCS in February which was only their only loss in ten games.

It was a fixture that appeared tricky for Bantu and it seemed possible James Madidilane’s charges would drop points.

It didn’t turn out that way, however. Bantu started like a house on fire to take the lead in the eight minute through Tsietsi Motšeare and then doubled their lead in the 27th minute through Lazola Tjokotjokwana. Kick4Life pulled one back through Nkoto Masoabi in the 42nd minute but Bantu professionally saw the game out in the second half despite Kick4Life’s valiant efforts.

One of Bantu’s hallmarks under Madidilane has been their ability to bounce back from setbacks.

They haven’t suffered successive defeats since Madidilane took charge in June 2016. The last time A Matšo Matebele lost consecutive matches was in May 2016 when they lost 3-2 to Kick4Life on May 1 and then went down 3-2 to Sundawana the following weekend.

This season, after their painful away goals defeat to Mbabane Swallows in the CAF Champions League in February, Bantu came back to score five goals in their next two games. After they were docked three points by the Premier League for fielding ineligible players in March they beat Likhopo and also reached the LNIG Top 8 finals.

On Sunday, A Matšo Matebele overcame a Kick4Life side that is fighting for a top four place after losing in the cup final. It is this type of resiliency that has Bantu once again in control of league crown’s destiny.

Remaining games for title contenders
Bantu
Lioli
21 April - Bantu v Lioli
21 April - Bantu v Lioli
29 April - Majantja v Bantu
28 April - LCS v Lioli
5 May - Bantu v LCS
6 May - Lioli v Sefotha-fotha
12 May - Matlama v Bantu
12 May - LMPS v Lioli
To be rescheduled:
LDF v Bantu
LMPS v Bantu
To be rescheduled:
Lioli v Linare

All is not lost for Lioli however and it all starts with that game against Bantu. If Lioli win the match they would go top. And although Bantu have a game in hand, A Matšo Matebele have a difficult remaining schedule which sees them still having to face the in-form Majantja, top four chasing LCS, LDF and LMPS and then finish the season against Matlama.

Lioli haven’t been at their best but they have been doing just enough to keep touch in the title race. Tse Nala did just enough again on Sunday as they edged past Likhopo 1-0 thanks to Bokang Sello’s second half winner.

Lioli’s last five games
15/04/18
Lioli
1-0
Likhopo
W
02/04/18
Sky Battalion
0-4
Lioli
W
18/03/18
Liphakoe
0-2
Lioli
W

Lioli are staying in touch and the 2017/18 Econet Premier League title will be won by them or Bantu.

Weekend Results:
Saturday:
LCS v Sky Battalion
Sefotha-fotha v Linare
Liphakoe v LMPS
(all postponed because of rain)

Sunday:
Kick4Life 1-2 Bantu
Lioli 1-0 Likhopo
Majantja v LDF (unplayable pitch)

Econet Premier League standings:


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Bantu
18
13
3
2
34
13
21
42
2
Lioli
19
12
5
2
28
13
15
41
3
Matlama
19
10
6
3
25
14
11
36
4
Kick4Life
19
8
6
5
25
16
9
30
5
LDF
17
6
7
4
19
15
4
25
6
LCS
18
6
6
6
18
14
4
24
7
Majantja
18
6
6
6
18
18
0
24
8
Linare
19
8
3
8
20
26
-6
24
9
LMPS
17
6
5
6
17
18
-1
23
10
Liphakoe
18
7
1
10
17
23
-6
22
11
Sefotha-fotha
18
3
8
7
13
25
-12
17
12
Likhopo
19
3
5
11
11
27
-16
14
13
Sky Battalion
19
0
2
17
4
34
-30
-4
·         Linare docked 3 points for late registration
·         Sky Battalion docked 6 points for late registration
·         Bantu docked 3 points and 3 goals
·         Lioli awarded 3 points and 3 goals