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Remarkable midfielder, youthful mentor, Motlalepula ‘Z10’ Mofolo

Former Likuena and Lioli playmaker, Motlalepula 'Z10' Mofolo

July 17, 2021 4 min read

4 min read

HE did not only shine in local football circles as a skillful midfielder, but he went out to make a name for himself in one of South Africa’s elite Premier League clubs, Orlando Pirates.

This is despite the fact that he did not play for the Soweto giants’ first team.  

Motlalepula Mofolo played a starring role as Lesotho secured their first ever qualification for the then African Youth Championship in 2005 and also reached the final of the COSAFA U-20 Cup in the same year.  

His impressive run with Makoanyane XI also attracted the attention of international scouts and that is how “Manqane-Z10” as the player is popularly known, ended up donning Pirates’ reserve side’s colours.

He hit the ground running at Yebo Yes and was awarded the captain’s armband in a team that had the likes of the late Senzo Meyiwa, Excellent Walaza and Tlou Segolela. 

Born on September 7, 1986, Mofolo hails from Teyateyaneng in the Berea district.

He started playing competitive football in 1999 as learner at Likuena High School, where he completed his Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (COSC) in 2003.

The same year, he registered with the TY Premier League giants, Lioli FC.

When he joined Pirates development side in 2004, he was under the mentorship of Leslie Notsi with the U-17 squad.

He remained with the team until 2005 when he was elevated to the club’s senior reserve where he featured until 2009. Mofolo returned to Lesotho in 2010 and rejoined his old club Lioli.

Three years later, he joined the Algerian side MC Saida but he returned home before the end of the 2013 because of clearance issues.

He made his debut for Likuena in 2006 against African football powerhouse, the Super Eagles of Nigeria during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.  

“The Nigerians came with all their stars of that era, including Nwankwo Kanu, John Obi Mikel, Joseph Jobo, Obafemi Martins and Yakubu Ayegbeni, who were already playing their football in England.

“I had goose bumps in days leading to that match. At the time, I was still with Pirates, playing for their reserve team. Okonkwo was with Pirates’ senior team and in the Super Eagles squad.

“We interacted a lot with the senior players and obviously most of them followed our progress, hence, he was aware that like him, I had earned a call up for my country,” he says.

He adds: “He approached me, talking to me in tsotsitaal (local lingo) that was very popular at Pirates and told me that we will meet in Maseru.

“I felt highly motivated, knowing that I would be up against my senior at club level. We did not give the Nigerians much breathing space and they narrowly escaped with a 1-0 victory, courtesy of a goal by Yakubu. Everybody thought they would give us a serious hiding, but we did not show them much respect on the field, instead, we gave them a run for their money.”

Mofolo considers four local players, including Ralekoti Mokhahlane, Bokang Mothoana, Tefo Maipato, Katleho Moleko and Bushy Moletsane as the toughest players he faced at home.

He played alongside almost all of them in both the U-20 and the senior team.

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Mofolo is adamant that the Makoanyane XI class of 2005 that qualified for the African Youth Championship and reached the final of the COSAFA Cup that year was driven by nothing but love and dedication.

“We all loved football. We were united and committed to the game as well as the country. Our willingness to learn from our coaches helped us to be successful as a team.”

Mofolo advises the current crop of players to respect their talent and put a lot of energy towards improving. He says football has several opportunities that can change lives for the better, but at the same time it is a short career that if one does not do things right, they will regret forever.

“I think with our generation; it was all about passion and the hunger to succeed. Donning the national team jersey and representing our country was a great motivation on its own. It wasn’t really about money, but the hunger to bring success to our country,” he recalls.

After nursing a knee injury for a long time, he finally hung up his soccer boots in 2018 at age 30, to make room for the young blood.

Mofolo is currently pursuing his lifetime dream of becoming a coach.

He learnt the ropes of coaching under the tutelage of Coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, ‘Thots’ with whom he worked throughout his playing days with the national teams and at Lioli FC.

His dream is to follow in Thotanyana’s footsteps by first making a name for himself as a coach at Lioli.

He is already in the team’s technical department where he is in charge of the development side.

“I hope to one day graduate to the senior team and eventually coach the national teams,” he says. LeFA/Metro

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