The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has still not secured funding for the national team (Likuena) to fulfil its 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group C qualifiers, which begin in West Africa next weekend.
According to Lefa Public Relations Officer, Thabo Maretlane, unless the association is paid the M3.6 million it is owed by the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Likuena would not be able to be part of the qualifiers.
Likuena begin their group stage fixtures against Burkina Faso on 5 September, and host Gabon four days later.
Likuena are expected to fly to the West African country on Thursday next week, but according to Maretlane, this might no longer be possible due to financial challenges.
“At this very moment, nothing has improved and we are not sure whether the team will honour its matches, which as you are aware, are the last stage of the qualifiers,” Maretlane said on Tuesday this week.
“The players are yet to return to camp since they were sent home last week due to the funding issue.
“It’s a sad situation, but there is nothing we can do and have to wait for the ministry to give us the money.”
However, Maretlane said “everyone” is now worried because it is now less than two weeks before Likuena’s opening match against Burkina Faso, scheduled for Ouagadougou.
“This is a very difficult situation for us as the football governing-body, but we are confident the ministry will secure the money as per their promise,” Maretlane said.
Yet should Likuena, who reached the group stage of the competition after eliminating Liberia and Kenya in the first and second round respectively, be booted out of the championship due to the funding issue, it would be a sad day for Lesotho football—a possibility Maretlane said was too painful to even think about.
In addition to Burkina Faso and Gabon, Lesotho also face Angola in Group C of the qualifiers.
A total of 28 nations will play in seven groups of the last phase of the qualifiers that would decide who joins hosts Morocco in the finals. The top two teams from each group and best third-placed nation progress to the finals scheduled for 17 January to 8 February 2015.
Full Group C fixtures
05-06/09/14- Burkina Faso v Lesotho; 05-06/09/14- Gabon v Angola; 10/09/14- Angola v Burkina Faso; 10/09/14- Lesotho v Gabon; 10-11/10/14- Gabon v Burkina Faso; 10-11/10/14- Lesotho v Angola; 15/10/14- Burkina Faso v Gabon; 15/10/14- Angola v Lesotho; 14-15/11/14- Lesotho v Burkina Faso; 14-15/11/14-Angola v Gabon; 19/11/14- Burkina Faso v Angola; 19/11/14: Gabon v Lesotho.