WITH Likuena’s dream of qualifying for the 2019 AFCON shuttered, Lesotho’s top assistant referee Souru Phatšoane is hoping give football fans some solace by becoming the first referee from the Mountain Kingdom to officiate at the prestigious continental showpiece.
Lesotho has over the years had different referees officiating in different youth and regional tournaments but has never had any match official officiating at the AFCON.
Phatšoane jetted out of the country on 24 March 2019 to attend the week-long video assistant referee (VAR) workshop in South Africa.
The VAR system was first introduced during the FIFA under-20 World Cup in South Korean in 2017 and was a great success at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
CAF has now embarked on a mission to ensure that its top referees are well equipped with the system that was designed to assist the referee with decision making during matches and is set to make its debut at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt from June to July.
Phatšoane, who this year has been officiating in CAF category A matches and recently oversaw a match between FC Platinum from Zimbabwe against Esperance of Morocco, said it would be a dream come true to make the list of referees who will be officiate in Egypt.
“Yes, it is my big dream to be invited to a major tournament like the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations,” Phatšoane told this publication.
“But all that will depend on the selecting committee. I’m ready for anything and I’m confident God will help me achieve that dream.”
Speaking about his recent rise officiating in big continental matches, The Tšenola born assistant referee admitted that his recent rise officiating in continental matches has been challenging especially in countries like Morocco and Tunisia to officiate in front of bigger stadiums with huge crowds.
“They are all very professional in how they treat match officials but you have to officiate in front of big crowds, which is different to what I’m used to at home.
“But of course, my life has changed a lot since I became an international referee. The lifestyle is different now. I have to spend a lot of my time in training and also monitor what I eat.
“For those coming after me to reach this level, I encourage them to work hard and focus on their careers.
“It’s also important to watch a lot of football to learn from others and also trust in God,” he said.
Phatšoane has already officiated in five international competitions including the final of the COSAFA Cup in 2018.
He has been part of the refereeing panel at the regional competition since 2014 and also at their under-20 tournament in 2011 and 2012.
Phatšoane also officiated at the CAF under-17 in 2015 in Niger and 2017 in Gabon as well as the Africa Nations Championship in 2018.