THE senior men’s national soccer team this week suffered a major bow after three players and two members of the technical team tested positive for Covid-19.
The five have since been dropped from the entourage which travelled to Benin for the first leg of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier on Tuesday evening. The team is expected in Benin yesterday afternoon for its Saturday clash.
The three, whose names the Lesotho Times has withheld, join the list of other high-profile personalities who have tested positive for Covid-19 among them Health minister Motlatsi Maqelepo, former Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki and wife, ‘Malimpho. Others are former All Basotho Convention (ABC) legislator ‘Mamandla Muza and the late Justice Lisebo Chaka-Makhooane, who succumbed to Covid-19 in July this year.
Sources said the players tested positive for Covid-19 a fortnight ago while the members of the technical team were diagnosed on Monday.
The Covid-19 cases saw Kopano Tseka and Monaheng Ramalefane, who had been dropped, being re-called to the squad to fill two of the spots left by the dropped players.
Thabo Senong’s charges have a daunting task tomorrow where they are facing Benin in the first leg of Group L AFCON qualifiers in Cotonou.
The team left the country on Tuesday afternoon to Johannesburg where it boarded a plane at OR Tambo to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia before connecting to Benin.
While LeFA would neither confirm nor deny the identities of the affected personnel, it confirmed the cases.
“The Lesotho Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity that three players and two officials from the Likuena camp have tested positive for Covid-19 and did not travel with the team for the first leg match in Benin,” reads part of the statement.
“LeFA respects patient and doctor confidentiality and will therefore not disclose the names of these players and officials. The players and officials are already in isolation, but in a stable condition. The association will continue giving them all the support they need during the recovery and appeals to the members of the public and our media partners to respect the privacy of these players and their families.
“…I would like to also thank the head coach, Thabo Senong, all members of the technical team and the players for the commitment shown since the team started its preparations despite the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Lesotho Football Association has already informed the relevant authorities as per the regulations when such issues occur…,” reads the statement.