MASERU — Malawi have turned down Lesotho’s request for a friendly international this month, a development that could be another serious indictment of local football standards.
The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) had tried to engage Malawi after earlier overtures to Ghana and Tanzania failed to get favourable responses.
LEFA technical director Seephephe Matete said the match against the Flames could not materialise because they could not agree with the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) on the date.
“We could not agree on a date because Malawi wanted the friendly match played on May 30, the date set for our Premier League final matches,” Matete told the Lesotho Times.
But Flames coach Kinnah Phiri did not mince his words, saying playing Likuena was a waste of time.
“Honestly speaking I don’t see any gain in playing Lesotho,” Phiri was quoted as saying by Malawi’s Daily Times.
“They will not help us at all.”
He added: “We need to play West African countries who will give us a good measure of our performance.
“I gave them (FAM) my programme in which I strongly recommended that we play at least a West African country and not a team like Lesotho which has not qualified.”
Malawi are ranked number 112 on the FIFA world rankings, while Lesotho are a distant 161.
The Flames are in contention for a place at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while Lesotho could not make it past the preliminary stage in which they lost all their qualifiers.
Lesotho’s last win in a competitive match came in March 2007 against Niger.
The dismal record has made it difficult for Likuena to get opponents for friendly internationals.
Likuena’s last friendly was against a largely Under-23 Botswana side which ended nil-all last month.
In a bid to turn around their fortune, Lesotho coach Zavisa Milosavljevic set out a plan to have a match for his charges every month or at least on every FIFA date for friendly internationals.
But it appears it’s not going to be easy finding opponents.
“So far there is no team which has confirmed its availability to play a friendly against Likuena,” Matete said.