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Phafane speaks on Setsoto upgrade

Business

Seabata Mahao

The president of the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) advocate Salemane Phafane is optimistic that the national team will soon return to hosting its official matches at Setsoto Stadium.

Likuena has not been able to use the national stadium since 2021 after the stadium was banned from hosting official international matches by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) due to its deplorable state.

Apart from Setsoto Stadium, Lesotho does not have any other CAF-approved playing grounds that can host official international matches.

As a result, the national team has been hiring eligible CAF playing grounds to host its matches in the neighbouring South Africa.

Likuena’s next match against Comoros in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers in June this year, could be the last time it hosts matches outside the country, according to advocate Phafane.

“The government of Lesotho led by Honourable Ntsokoane Matekane and several of his ministers have been hands-on with football activities and graced several of our events, which gives us hope as the football family that our government will see the need to invest resources to improve the standard of sports in the country,” advocate Phafane said in his recent end of the footballing season statement.

“On top of that list would be to renovate Setsotso Stadium as soon as possible to meet the standards needed to host international matches, as it has been suspended in the last two years.

“Our hope is that the upcoming 2023 (AFCON) match against Comoros, scheduled for June 17, will be the last that Likuena have to host on foreign soil,” advocate Phafane added.

Following the dead rubber AFCON qualifier match, Likuena will then take part in the 2023 Hollywoodbets Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup tournament, scheduled for Durban, South Africa from July 5-16 this year.

The COSAFA draw has placed Likuena in Group C, which also contains Mozambique, Angola, and Mauritius.

Lesotho has previously reached the COSAFA Cup semi-finals for three tournaments in a row between 2017 and 2019 but could not win the cup.

They finished third in 2018 while coming fourth both in 2017 and 2019.

This year’s showpiece will see 12 participating teams divided into three groups each containing four teams.

The top team in each group will advance to the semi-finals, with the fourth spot to be taken by the best-placed runners-up.

It is a departure from the previous format in which there were two groups of four teams and another six sides entered at the quarterfinal stage.

The new format ensures that each country will play a minimum of three matches up to a maximum of five over the course of the competition.

It also allows for an extra day’s rest between most group games, to boost player welfare.

The full COSAFA draw is shown below.

Group A:

South Africa, Namibia, Eswatini, and Botswana;

Group B: Zambia, Malawi, Seychelles, and Comoros;

Group C: Lesotho, Mozambique, Angola, and Mauritius.

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