Things fall apart at Rovers

MASERU — Once the pride of Lesotho’s football, Rovers are in danger of disintegrating.

The Roma club has for sometime been beset by mismanagement, but now allegations of corruption might see the eventual collapse of the National University of Lesotho side.

The developments come at the worst possible time, just ahead of what promises to be a tough campaign in the second tier of Lesotho’s football after Rovers were relegated from the Vodacom Premier League last season.

Their relegation, where the Roma side finished second from bottom, had hinted something was deeply wrong at the club.

With the management and the squad said to be on very different wavelengths in the side’s disastrous run-in it was perhaps a matter of time before disaster struck.

Rovers players have now said they are fed up with the club’s administration, accusing it of not having the best interests of the team at heart.

Thabo Thite, who came in as coach in January after another one of Rovers’ recent fractious periods, is also disillusioned with the club’s management.

Thite, a former Rovers player, went some way to restoring the Roma side’s pride on the pitch but his efforts have continually been hampered.

Last season Rovers failed to pitch up for a premiership match against Nyenye Rovers on April 17 because there was no transport available.

Players and coaching staff have confirmed that on several other occasions they had to make travel plans themselves.

It is perhaps part of a wider problem of mismanagement of sports in general at the national university.

In April, for example, there was a tumult after student athletes were stuck at the Lesotho-South Africa border for a day en route to the Intervarsity Games in Swaziland.

Whether there is a link is hard to say for certain, but it is clear that poor management over the past couple of seasons has led to NUL’s football team’s demise.

Players have now written to the country’s football governing body, the Lesotho Football Association, to intervene.

They want to know what the rules on club constitutions are, and if needed, that Rovers’ constitution be changed and followed.

If this can be done, they say, it will help the club regain a semblance of order that is sorely lacking.

Rovers, as a university team, have a budget and in theory should be one of the better-off teams in the country.

But this is not the case.

Instead, the players say, apart from transport difficulties, the club has lacked basic football equipment.

There are also startling allegations that Rovers haven’t had an annual general meeting since 2000 and that club officials are pocketing money from player transfer fees.

Yesterday the players called the management for a crisis meeting to resolve matters.

Whether this will help or not only time will tell.

In April, Thite said he wanted to restore the culture of a team that is doubtless a football institution in Lesotho.

But a lot will need to be done to save Rovers of Roma from a possible and unwanted meltdown.

And this is the club that once boasted players like Kabelo Mosothoane, Tšepo Hlojeng and Paballo Mpakanyane.

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