Bantu Football Club has finally been officially approved by the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) to the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) for country representation at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League to be staged from November 20, 2020.
The PLMC had decided to wait for finalisation of the protracted case where Matlama is challenging LeFAâ€™s decision to end the soccer season prematurely and crown Bantu the Econet Premier League Championship before clearing the team to participate in CAF.
The 2019/20 league season was halted in mid-March because of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and was then officially ended on 31 July 2020. At 50 points, Bantu were the leading team at the time ahead of second-placed Matlama by an astounding 16 points, with eight games to go.
Despite having lost the case thrice at the Dispute and Protest Committee (DISPTOCO), the Appeal Board and the Arbitration Tribunal, Matlama is determined to still â€œpursue justiceâ€ and continue to challenge LeFAâ€™s decision.
Matlama Public Relations Officer Tankiso Moletsane last week said they would take the matter further to the International Court for Arbitration of Sports (CAS).
However, LeFA Secretary-General Mokhosi Mohapi refuted the claims that Bantuâ€™s delayed registration into CAF CL is related to the Matlama case.
â€œWhile it would appear that Matlama FCâ€™s case would have an effect on the qualification of Bantu, there is nowhere in all three judgments where it was recorded that Matlama was seeking to block Bantu being qualified to the CAF CL,â€ Mohapi said.
Mohapi added that the case was about the manner in which the decision was reached at and not serve to refute the qualification.
PLMC Public Relations Officer Moeketsi Ramakatsa said the committee met on Thursday last week and agreed to encourage LeFA to register Bantu for the Champions League because they are the champions according to the football governing body.
“From the onset, it was the PLMC that recommended to LeFA the decision to end the league and crown Bantu the Championship, so we still stand by that,” Ramakatsa said.
Ramakatsa also affirmed the aforementioned statement that Matlama’s case has nothing to do with Bantu being crowned champions but they were just unhappy with the process.
“It was never about who was being crowned champions but rather the procedure. That was beyond us because LeFA was well within its rights to make that decision,” he noted.
On Monday morning Mohapi confirmed that CAF has received and approved Bantu’s participation.
“CAF confirmed receipt of the LeFA enrolment in the CAF Champions League” he said.
Meanwhile Bantu began with preparations last week and is now awaiting the preliminary draw. The preliminary stages of the tournament are expected to start on 20 November with the second leg of that round to be played a week later.