CAF road closed

MASERU –— Lioli have accepted they will not be competing in the CAF Champions League next year.
After months of wrangling, the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has decided there would be no team from Lesotho in the Champions League in 2010 because of the unavailability of Setsoto Stadium.
The decision means after winning their first league title in 24 years, Lioli have been denied the opportunity to participate in Africa’s flagship club-football competition next season.
Club president Lebohang Thotanyana said while they had accepted it, the decision still came as a shock and they felt it was a tactic by Lefa to undermine Lioli’s High Court case against them.
“In June this year (Premier League chairman and Lefa vice-president) Tlholo Letete said if Setsoto was not ready, we would have a fallback position by using stadiums in Mafeteng and Mohale’s Hoek,” Thotanyana told the Lesotho Times on Monday.
“Therefore, it came as a very big shock when we were told we would not be participating in the tournament next year.”
“The issue of Lioli’s participation was never tied to the availability of Setsoto Stadium,” Thotanyana said.
“This was just a way for Lefa to undermine our case, which they have successfully done because we have since withdrawn it.”
Lioli feel they have been vindicated by the latest events.
“We are not apologetic for bringing a case against Lefa. Our case was never about who should play in the Champions League; it was about following the rules,” Thotanyana said.
“In that regard, we are very satisfied that we have been proven right because CAF clearly stated that Lefa have the power to nominate a club but without breaking the rules and regulations.
“We did not withdraw the case because it was weak,” he added. “Part of the process would have been to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Lefa had done this to undermine our case.”
Lioli do not want a future slot such as promised to LCS when Masheshena were unable to play in the Champions League for the same reason.
“We don’t want to be given any future slot. And based on the law, it simply can’t happen,” Thotanyana said. “We have been pressing for the laws to be followed and we will do the same in future.
“But what we know is that this is a big betrayal to the people of Lesotho.”
Lioli, who were knocked out of this year’s Vodacom Soccer Spectacular by Likhopo on Saturday, are third in the Premiership —three points behind pacesetters Matlama. Thotanyana said Lioli were just concentrating on winning the title.
“We just want to focus on the league now,” Thotanyana said. “We want to move on.”
Meanwhile, LCS who had been given the right to participate in the 2010 Champions League by Lefa, have also expressed their disappointment.
LCS were unable to participate in the Champions League this year after Lefa withdrew their participation last year.
“It is the same reason as last year,” LCS general secretary  Lehlohonolo Matlosa said. “We are very disappointed because we thought we were going to play in the competition and had begun preparations.”
Matlosa added they were never consulted by Lefa over the decision.
“We just got a circular. I don’t know if they spoke to other high-ranking officials from LCS, but I doubt it,” Matlosa said.

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