MASERU — Newly crowned Buddie Premier League champions Lioli are on a collision course with their predecessors, LCS, over the right to represent Lesotho in the African Champions League.
The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) last October decreed that LCS would play in Africa next year after failing to register the prisons side in the Champions League this year.
LCS did not take part in the tournament because of the unavailability of a stadium that meets international standards and LEFA did not have funds to host the team’s matches in neighbouring South Africa.
But Lioli, the new champions, insist they have to play in the continent’s premier club competition next year instead.
The league is a preserve of Africa’s national champions, although some countries have earned two berths because of their success in the tournament.
LCS this season finished third, yet Lesotho — a relative lightweight in continental football — has one Champions League slot.
“We are looking forward to playing in the Champions League next season,” LCS general secretary Lehlohonolo Matlosa told the Lesotho Times this week.
However, Lioli president Lehlohonolo Thotanyana was singing the same tune, setting up a potentially explosive boardroom battle.
“We are champions of the league,” Thotanyana said. “We expect to play in the Champions League.”
LEFA had toyed around with the idea of having — in case LCS did not retain the national title — the prisons team play the winners to decide who would play in the lucrative Champions League.
The play-off losers would take part in the CAF Confederation Cup, Africa’s second-tier club competition.
Lioli have never participated in the Champions League, while LCS were Lesotho’s representative last year.
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LCS were knocked out in the preliminary round.
Matlosa said they were eagerly waiting for LEFA to decide the way forward.
“We are waiting for confirmation from LEFA. They said they would come back to us,” he said.
“We want to play in the Champions League but a situation has arisen now whereby there are two champions.”
LEFA officials were not available for comment on the fix.
Meanwhile, Thotanyana said the Ministry of Sports had assured them that Setsoto Stadium will be available to host matches this month-end, although renovations would continue until next April.
Setsoto Stadium, Lesotho’s only football venue with a degree of international standards, has been undergoing a major facelift since last year.
“We have been assured by the Ministry of Sports that the stadium will be ready by the end of the month,” Thotanyana said.
“Construction work will continue but the (playing) surface will be available.”