Govt letting down national football teams: Mohapi



Leemisa Thuseho | Moorosi Tsiane

LESOTHO Football Association (LeFA) secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, has lamented the government’s failure to assist in preparing national teams for international assignments.

This after the government failed to finance the senior women (Mehalalitoe) and men’s (Likuena) national teams’ trips for the COSAFA trip to Port Elizabeth and the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Benin respectively. LeFA has also sought government support for the men’s Under-20 team and Bantu which is due to play in the CAF Champions’ League but to no avail, he said.

Despite several letters to the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation since September this year over the two trips, there have not been any responses.

“Since September, LeFA has written to the ministry about the Mehalalitoe, Likuena, the Under-20 team and Bantu’s assignments but there has never been any response,” Mohapi said.

“To add salt to the injury, an official at the ministry only asked when was Mehalalitoe leaving when the team was already in Port Elizabeth. Just yesterday (Monday) a similar question was asked about Likuena’s trip to Benin. Likuena is leaving for Benin today (Tuesday). This means the team already has travelling and accommodation arrangements sorted.”

Due to lack of government assistance, Likuena may end up arriving back home from Benin long after their visitors have arrived giving the hosts a disadvantage. This because Benin are chartering a flight to Lesotho while Likuena will rely on commercial flights.

According to Mohapi a chartered plane would minimise travelling delays on the trip.

From OR Tambo, the team flew to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, before connecting to Cotonou, Benin, where they were expected to land at 1pm yesterday. The team will use the same route on the way back home and is expected to land at OR Tambo in the wee hours of Sunday before driving back to Maseru for their Tuesday clash with Benin.

While Benin is also expected in Maseru on Sunday, chances are that it will arrive before its hosts and the players would be fresher having flown directly to Maseru.

This therefore, will mean Likuena players will not get adequate time to rest and prepare for the match.

Mohapi said they communicated the need for travel arrangements to the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) but nothing came through.

Chattering a plane to and from Benin required M1.6 million.

This will be not the first for Likuena to arrive in the country after their visitors after they also followed a similar script during the 2019 AFCON qualifiers against Uganda in 2018.

Having lost 3-0 in Kampala, by the time Likuena landed at OR Tambo, the Cranes of Uganda were already in Maseru. The hosts then drove throughout the night to Maseru only to lose 0-2.

Mohapi is therefore worried that this is likely to be the same predicament for the team.

For his part, LSRC acting chief executive officer Teboho Malataliana confirmed that LeFA had submitted its budget for national teams’ international obligations but said the ministry is yet to release its funds.

“Yes, they submitted their budgets and we looked at them and submitted the to the Sports ministry but we haven’t received the money yet,” Malataliana said.

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