Montoeli back home amid controversy

MASERU — Former Lioli winger Sonopo Montoeli is back home under a cloud of controversy.

The talented ‘Montoeli who left Lesotho to join Spanish league giants Atletico Madrid in December returned home amid claims that he failed to make the grade in Madrid.

Lioli communications and marketing manager Moeketsi Pitso told a press briefing on Tuesday that Montoeli was back in the country because “he could not cope with the cold weather in Europe”.

Pitso said the Spanish club were left with no choice but to send the 18-year-old back home.

“Lioli has just suffered a huge setback after Atletico Madrid decided to send back Sonopo ‘Montoeli because he was struggling to cope with the cold weather,” Pitso said.

He said according to reports they received from Spain, Atletico Madrid were initially happy with Montoeli’s performance.

“The team manager was happy with Sonopo’s performance when he was first introduced to the team but as time went on, he failed to cope with the weather,” Pitso said.

“The team manager said for three days he failed to deliver as was expected because of the weather.”

But in an interview with the Lesotho Times on Tuesday, ‘Montoeli was however singing a different tune.

He said he was told to return home because the Spanish league was about to come to an end.

“The league is set to end in May this year so they asked me to come back. They promised that they will come and pick me up in June,” ‘Montoeli said.

He however admitted that he found the going tough when he arrived in Spain in December but his performances during training improved significantly thereafter.

“Things were not looking good during my first weeks with the team and I struggled. However my last two weeks were excellent as I started proving myself and they saw that I can deliver,” he said.

‘Montoeli will now revert to being a Lioli player.

Pitso added that the club is willing to sell him should any international team wish to sign him.

He said South African league giants Orlando Pirates had expressed interest in signing the player before he was snatched by Atletico Madrid last year.

“He (‘Montoeli) is currently receiving counselling and should any team be interested in him, we are ready to release him,” Pitso said.

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