National football team (Likuena) coach, Seephephe Matete, has made nine changes to his squad that will play Burkina Faso and Gabon on 10 and 15 November, respectively.
While the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) and Matete have said the shakeup has nothing to do with “administrative politics”, even a fool can see that most of these players have been dropped because of the bonus row that rocked the team prior to their disastrous trip to Angola early this month.
I had expected the coach to ring a few changes following the 4-0 loss to the Angolans in Likeuna’s last 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C qualifier, but never such a massive shake-up.
Yet the whole situation is saddening because the media has been very vocal over the years, in advising Lefa to come-up with better policies in order to end this allowances row, once for all.
For me, kicking out players suspected to have had a big influence in the strike does not bring a solution to the issue.
The players wanted to be paid M5000 each while Lefa was offering them M600, which I strongly believe was a slap in the face considering everything they had done to reach the group stage of the Afcon campaign—beating powerhouses Liberia and Kenya in the knockout stage of the qualifiers.
Lefa and the coach should really believe Basotho cannot put one-and-one together to issue such a statement—that the shakeup had nothing to do with administrative politics—because it is very clear that the wholesale changes have everything to do with the allowances.
While I agree Bushy Moletsane, Motlalepula Mofolo and Tšepo Lekhooana had not been performing well in recent matches and may be needed to be rested or excluded from the team, I really don’t understand why Nkau Lerotholi, Tšepo Seturumane and Tšoanelo Koetle have been axed.
I also agree with the fact that no footballer should be bigger than the team or Lefa, but a player like Moletsane has served his country with distinction for a very long time and deserved better treatment from the association.
Lerotholi, Seturumane and Koetle are all in their 20s and have been among the top performers for both club and country, over recent months.
Seturumane, who was Lesotho’s top footballer two seasons ago, has been in splendid form since the 2014/15 Premier League season started late August.
Koetle has also been a top performer for the last three seasons, while there is really nothing I can say that has not been said before, about the iconic Lerotholi, who recently joined South African first division side, Garankuwa United.
True, Koetle had a nightmare of a game against Angola in Luanda during which he scored an own goal in the 4-0 drubbing.
But this is the same Koetle who marked Gabon’s Pierre Aubameyang of crack German side Borussia Dortmund, out of the game two months ago, resulting in a goalless draw at Setsoto stadium, thereby keeping Likuena’s dream alive of making it to their maiden Afcon tournament.
Aubameyang has been very deadly in front of goal and scored a brace last week against Turkey outfit Galatasaray in the European Champions League, to prove his class.
That is why Koetle’s exclusion from Likuena has come as a surprise, considering that Lesotho would still want to win their remaining fixtures and make it to the Afcon tournament through being the best third-placed nation in the seven, four-team qualifying groups.
As for Lerotholi, we all know his defensive qualities for Likuena and his partnership with captain Moitheri Ntobo has been outstanding over the past three years.
For me, it really does not make sense that Lerotholi has been replaced by Lioli captain Shetsane Ramoseeka, who is already in his 30s and really struggled to adapt to life in the national team some years back when he was given the chance.
That is why Lefa should come out and tell the football fraternity that most of these players have been omitted from the team because of the bonus issue, which has been a problem for the team since the Afcon qualifiers started, and nothing else.
As for Seturumane, we all remember that he walked out of camp over the issue. While I admit his action was wrong, I had hoped that the association would sit the youngster down and show him the error of his ways and guide him accordingly.
There is no doubt that we still need a majority of these players to take this country to the Afcon final someday.
On the issue of allowances, Lefa should be serious and treat players with respect because no man in this day and age would agree to go to Angola for a paltry M600.