Likuena players cry foul


Mikia Kalati

LIKUENA players have lashed out at the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) for giving them paltry allowances and poor handling of their trip to and from Kampala, in Uganda for a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Saturday.

Moses Maliehe’s side suffered a 3-0 loss to Uganda which saw their dream of playing at their first AFCON suffer a huge blow. The side also lost 0-2 to the Cranes in the reverse fixture on Tuesday.

Ugandan players came into the clashes high on confidence after the country’s president Yoweri Museveni handed each member of the team $5000 (about M75 000).

He also chartered a plane for the team ahead of the return leg at Setsoto Stadium which saw the Cranes arriving in Maseru on Sunday morning while the home side only arrived in their country in the wee hours of Monday.

Likuena players each received a paltry M800 for their trip to Uganda but LeFA has since promised them a share of the gate takings from the home match at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday.

A Likuena senior player, who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity, said that they are disappointed in the manner that their trip to Uganda was handled.

The player told the Lesotho Times soon after landing in Johannesburg late on Sunday that the whole team was disgruntled.

“This is horrible; our football is in the wrong hands,” said the player.

“How can the mood in our camp be good when we know the people we are playing and must beat to keep the hopes of qualifying for AFCON alive arrived in our country before us? They trained at our field and rested while we were still at the airport waiting for the bus.

“However, nobody cares about that and if we perform badly, it still is our fault.”

Another senior player in the Likuena squad also shared the same sentiments and said it was tough playing against a motivated Uganda.

“You can imagine when you have to play against a team that is already on top of the group and also high on confidence because each of their players has been given M75 000 and we were given M800 for the trip to Uganda.

“We had only a day to prepare and acclimatise with the weather in Uganda. On the other hand, the visitors have been in our country two days before the match and got more time to settle.

“It’s very painful because we are always insulted by the supporters when things do not go well but all in the name of M800. I think the association is not doing enough to get funds to support the players.

“We have been promised gate takings for the game on Tuesday but what if they do not make enough money. There are funds raised from television rights which the association must invest in the team and players,” the player told the Lesotho Times of Monday.

Contacted for comment, LeFA public relations officer Thabo Maretlane, said he could not associate the poor performance against Uganda with the unhappiness in the Likuena camp.

He said they always do their best to give the players allowances whenever they have the funds.

“I have not heard anything about the players being unhappy but what I can tell you is that whenever we have money we always give them allowances like we did during the COSAFA Cup.

“I do not think the performance in the two games against Uganda had anything to do with allowances but if it did, then it is unfortunate because the players had a chance to make history by being the first squad to qualify for AFCON.

“We depend on the government to run Likuena affairs and as LeFA there is a limit to what we can do alone and the players know that,” Maretlane said.

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