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Top referee frozen out

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MASERU – The sudden absence of one of Lesotho’s top referees, Retšelisitsoe Molise, remains an unexplained mystery in the Vodacom Premier League and has led many people to believe he has been suspended.

Molise, who is one Lesotho’s elite cluster of international referees, has not officiated in the elite league since April 2 in a game between Lijabatho and Swallows in Morija.

The game was marred by controversy because of an on-field incident involving Swallows goalkeeper Fusi Ranong.

It is reported Ranong went into a tussle with a Lijabatho player for the ball and Molise judged Ranong’s challenge unfair. The referee blew the whistle in favour of Lijabatho.

Ranong protested Molise’s decision and got into the referee’s face and even shoved him while blurting out unspeakable words.

Ranong is the same goalkeeper who was involved in another unsavoury incident with Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) midfielder Tšepo Toloane in a league match at the end of January.

The incident sparked a prolonged fight from LDF after the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) suspended one of their players, Bonang Mohapi, for his involvement in the melee.

Ranong has continued to play football with no repercussions for his unruly behaviour despite reports being submitted on the incidents while Molise has quietly been frozen out which affects his income and chances of being picked for international assignments.

He has not been assigned a single domestic game since. There was no sign of him in the Round of 26 which was played on April 8-9 and he was also not seen in the Round of 24 catch-up games which were played mid-week on April 12.

He was also a no-show in the Round of 27 games which were played on April 15, followed by another two-week absence during the People’s Cup.

The Lesotho Football Association’s Referee’s Coordinator, Mohau Sentšo, denied Molise had been suspended and said his absence was merely because those responsible for assigning match officials have not seen the need to assign him.

Sentšo said Molise will be back if those in charge decide to assign him.

Asked if it is not suspicious that Molise’s long absence comes after the game against Lijabatho, Sentšo said it may look that way, but he insisted that is not the case.

“Those responsible for assigning referees sit down every week to prepare referees’ assignments, depending on their performance and experience. If they pick referees and say their picks are enough, then some (referees) will not be there,” he said.

“Really, it’s been two weekends (that) they have not seen the need (to pick Molise). He is not the only one; Souru Phatšoane has also not been picked a lot. (Molise) will be back before the season ends if they decide to assign him,” he added.

Sentšo said the People’s Cup which was played over the past two weekends was only four games and that several officials were not picked for the competition.

While it is true several officials did not get a chance, a few of them were picked twice for the cup’s consecutive weekends in Mantšonyane and at Setsoto Stadium.

On Wednesday, thepost contacted Molise for comment. He refused to speak with the paper but confirmed he has not officiated since the game in Morija on April 2.

One league insider, who spoke with the paper on condition of anonymity, said Molise has been silently suspended and there is a chance he may not officiate in the Vodacom Premier League again this season.

The source said Molise has not been served with a suspension letter but he has been frozen out.

The source continued to say the freezing out of Molise does not come as a surprise as his no-nonsense attitude has very often ruffled the feathers of club bigwigs in the Vodacom Premier League, some of which are influential.

Amongst the decisions that Molise has made which angered some club executives is the time when he expelled former Bantu head coach Abram Mongoya from the bench in a league game against

Lioli in January in Teyateyaneng.

Molise removed Mongoya because he could not produce his card in a pivotal game that finished 0-0.

It was in that game where Molise and his team of match officials were forced to run for their lives after being attacked by a mob of Bantu fans while they were undressing.

Earlier this season, reports broke out about Molise being suspended after an executive from a big Premier League club wrote a letter complaining about him.

It is said that the Referees Committee fought against the suspension and it never happened.

By the time of writing, assignments for this weekend’s Vodacom Premier League had been made but its unclear if Molise has been assigned a game.

Premier League fixtures
Sunday (15:00)
Bantu vs. CCX (DIFA Mohale’s Hoek)
Liphakoe vs. LMPS (LCS Ground, 13:00)
Lijabatho vs. LCS (Morija, 15:00)
Swallows vs. Lifofane (Morija, 13:00)
Machokha vs. Manonyane (LCS Ground, 15:00)
Linare vs. Galaxy (DIFA Leribe)
LDF vs. Naughty Boys (Ratjomose)
Lioli vs. Matlama (Teyateyaneng)
Nedbank 8
Saturday
Mzamane vs. Quthing LMPS (12:00)
ACE Maseru vs. LU FC (14:30)
Sunday
Majantja vs. Sehenehene (12:00)
Likhopo vs. Lilemela (14:00)

WSL Fixtures Sunday
Basetsana vs. Rovers (Teyateyaneng, 10:00)
Berea Ladies vs. Bantu Ladies (Teyateyaneng, 12:00)
LUCT vs. Sky Battalion (Majametalana, 10:00)
FC Stoko vs. Thaba-Tseka Ladies (Mejametalana, 12:00)
LDF Ladies vs. Kick4Life (Mejametalana, 14:00)

Tlalane Phahla

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