Latest Soccer News

How South African coaches have fared in Lesotho

The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has put wheels in motion to move the domestic league from amateur to semi-professional, writes Tlalane Phahla

The level of football, however, has not stopped several coaches from South Africa even beyond from flocking to the Mountain Kingdom, and many have credited their time in Lesotho as the best. 

Here are five South African coaches that have taken a leap of faith and tested themselves in Lesotho.


Arguably the best import to date, no coach has been able to surpass his achievements with Bantu. 

The former Bloemfontein Celtic star arrived in Lesotho in 2016, recommended by Lehlohonolo Seema for the Mafeteng outfit. 

At the time, Bantu were sinking into a dark hole of oblivion, sacking coaches left, right and centre while their fierce rivals Lioli dominated the scene.

James Madidilane did not only stop Lioli in their tracks. He did so in style. Bantu had a distinctive playing style that Madidilane recruited players to fit in. 

To help him, he brought several players from Free State, including Peter Moloisane, who went on to join Chippa United, and Lindokuhle Phungulwa, who is still with the team.

He won two league titles and the Independence Cup. He also made history by becoming the first coach to guide past the first round of the CAF Champions League by knocking out Botswana giants Township Rollers. 

James Madidilane
Madidilane’s incredible record with Bantu

They proceeded to the preliminary round and were knocked down to CAF Confederations Cup by AS Vita. 

Although they could not get past Enugu Rangers of Nigeria, Madidilane had already done enough to earn plaudits in the local football scene.

LEFA roped him in to help the national team in their bid to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against South Africa. 

Impressed with his work, the association kept him as the second assistant coach for the 2019 COSAFA Cup in Durban.

Madidilane will be returning to Lesotho soon to do his CAF A Licence.


When Thabo Senong was announced as the new head coach of the Likuena, there was genuine excitement amongst the fans. It was justified. He had pedigree.

At the time, when the former South African Under 20 mentor was appointed, Likuena were scheduled to play the 2022 FIFA World Cup preliminary stage qualifier against Ethiopia a week later. 

From the onset, time was against him. He found a team already prepared by the association’s technical director Leslie Notši, which meant he could not make changes even if he liked.

Thabo Senong is currently assistant at Sekhukhune
Thabo Senong is currently assistant coach at Sekhukhune

Likuena were leaking goals in like a sieve; his first task was to end that. 

It worked as Likuena started to be tidier at the back and started playing more like a unit. 

Many felt the national team had a cohesive game plan, and many thought it took time before he started winning.

His time was heavily affected by the covid-19 pandemic. Everything was put on hold.

All his work went down the drain as the players went home. 

Senong was not an authoritarian but was not a pushover too. Even today, players still sing him praises. 

The Sekhukhune assistant coach prioritised discipline and hard work over anything else. Anyone who didn’t fall into line was dropped.

His last moments with the team were tainted by an ill-fated Mozambican tour where players were caught smoking marijuana, and one was caught stealing money at the hotel they were staying in.


He was a media darling, a straight talker who never shied away from speaking his mind. 

Whether it was about shady club administrators or players, he talked back to mouthy supporters who thought they knew better. 

In one incident in Maputsoe, he subbed off a fan favourite, Tumelo Makha, because he was dribbling too much and not moving the ball forward.

The move angered the fans behind the technical area, and they shouted at him, questioning his decisions. He stood up and told them he was in charge, not them. Classic.

The late Tshabalala

When he first arrived in Lesotho, he joined Lifofane, a small team from Butha-Buthe and guided them to an unprecedented MGC Top Four victory, handing the club their first ever trophy.

In Tshabalala style, he quit weeks after and left the management reeling telling everyone they felt disrespected by how he left the club. 

He resurfaced at Lioli while fellow South African Morena Ramorebodi oversaw the final part of their underwhelming 2019/20 season.

‘Tse Nala’ hadn’t won a trophy since 2018, and they tasked him to turn the ship around and claim silverware in his first season in charge. He only coached the Teyateyaneng giants for three matches before the season was halted in December because of a nationwide increase in Covid-19 cases, with ‘Tse Nala’ lying seventh in the league.

Unfortunately, he was never able to continue and passed on at the hospital in Berea due to Covid-19. He was the first prominent victim of the pandemic.


He had been linked with the role months before Linare unveiled him. He was often seen at games with the management but would deny rumours about taking over. 

The Orlando Pirates legend was unveiled on a two-year deal, and he promised to restore the team to the top.

Linare have won the league three times, but the last time they did was in 1980. 

The last time ‘Tse Tala’ also won silverware of any kind was back in 1999 when they won the Independence Cup. 

Since then, they have been a mid-table club at best and very often have come close to being relegated.

It is not easy to judge his time in Leribe as he too was impacted by the pandemic, but since he took over, Linare are one of the most entertaining teams to watch.

He has instilled a fearless spirit, and teams know that when they go to Maputsoe, it is a good result if they come back with a point.

He has used his contacts in South Africa to get players like Rethabile Rasethuntša trials at Swallows.


Lioli have turned to Ramorebodi twice to help them, but his stints at the club were not impressive, especially the first one. He ruffled feathers with the senior players. 

He brought his players from Bloemfontein and let go of most senior players who controlled the dressing for years.

When he arrived, the dressing room was considered toxic, and player power was at play. 

Morena Ramoreboli
Morena Ramoreboli is currently with Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy

Players were showing up for training when they wanted and would demand to be on the starting line-up. 

In a bid to arrest the situation, he released many of them, but those who were left behind still caused trouble.

On the pitch, Lioli was not easy to watch. They were knocked out of every cup competition they played in, much to the annoyance of the supporters. The boardroom was divided on what to do. 

Some wanted to keep him, while others felt he should go. He only lasted for six months. His second stint ended the same way after six months.

Back to top button