The national rugby team could pay dearly for failing to play one of their two matches at the recent Africa Cup Division 2 tournament held in Rwanda.
Likatola, as the team is called, arrived late for the four-nation event which also involved the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and the hosts.
Lesotho were supposed to play their first match against the DRC on 19 May, with a win taking them to the final against either Burundi or Rwanda. But after missing the DRC match and forfeiting the game to their opponents, Lesotho could only fight for a third-place finish against Burundi on 21 May.
Likatola went on to beat Burundi 6-3 while the DRC beat Rwanda 12-9 to win the tournament but Federation of Lesotho Rugby secretary general, Litšitso Motšeremeli, believes the team could have clinched the event and been elevated to Africa 1C Level. Lesotho are currently not ranked by the Rugby Africa hence they were so determined to do well at the tournament.
“We left here on the same day we were supposed to play our first match.
“This was because we only received funds for the trip very late from the Ministry of Sports, and could not get a flight to Kigali in time for our game against the DRC,” Motšeremeli said.
“We really don’t know where the delay was because the Minister of Sports had promised that funds would be available on time during a meeting with the leadership of different sports associations prior to our trip to Rwanda.”
Despite the setback, Motšeremeli said the win against Burundi—the first for Likatola outside the country after getting the better of Swaziland here at home—had provided the players with some consolation. But still, that win could count for naught.
“The players turned the negatives of their late arrival into a positive to beat Burundi,” said Motšeremeli.
“But we believe we could have ended in first position if we had played all the matches so we could get promotion to a higher level of continental rugby and qualify to get financial assistant from World Rugby.
“Our players deserve credit because unlike us, both Burundi and Congo have been playing the sport for a long time and are already getting funding from the World Rugby federation. The funding obviously helps them improve the sport in their respective countries so our win proved there is a lot of potential in our team.
“For now all we have to do is wait and see if we qualified for the Africa 1C level,” he said.
Asked about the late-disbursement of funds as alleged by Motšeremeli, the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation senior information officer, Thethiwe Makara, said she would only be in a position to comment tomorrow after checking with the accounts department.