Following his recent exploits at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cameroun, top Lesotho assistant referee Souru PhatÅ¡oane received a special precedential award during his welcome ceremony held at the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) headquarters, Bambatha TÅ¡ita Sports arena in Maseru on Monday.
PhatÅ¡oane arrived to a heroâ€™s welcome at Moshoeshoe 1 International Airport on Saturday morning after officiating the final of the AFCON tournament in Cameroon.
The tournament saw PhatÅ¡oane make history by becoming the first Mosotho to officiate in the final where Senegal was crowned the African Champions for the first time after defeating Egypt 4-2 on penalties.
He was working as the second assistant referee along with first assistant referee, Zakhele Siwele and central referee, Victor Gomes who are both from South Africa.
For his achievement and representing the country well at the continentâ€™s premium tournament, PhatÅ¡oane was awarded a trophy and certificate by LeFA President Advocate Salemane Phafane KC.
Speaking at the ceremony PhatÅ¡oane said it had always been his dream and desire to officiate the final of the tournament but did not think it would be so soon.
â€œI still anticipated that maybe I will officiate one more AFCON tournament before I could get a chance to officiate a final however, I was glad it came soonerâ€ he said.
PhatÅ¡oane said upon learning that they were to handle the final it was exciting and a surprise at the same time.
â€œWhen the announcement was made that we would be officiating the final, we were very excited, so much that even the exhaustion vanished and our faces lit up with excitement.
â€œFor me it was a bit of a surprise due to not having had a lot of experience and thinking I was at least having to make it to two more AFCON tournaments before I could go to a final,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, PhatÅ¡oaneâ€™s return from AFCON was delayed after he was appointed to officiate in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Championsâ€™ league match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Hilal of Sudan on Friday in South Africa.
He was still working with the duo of Siwele and Gomez in the game where Sundowns won 1-0.
Apart from the AFCON final, the 33-year-old officiated in four other matches in the tournament.
Prior to this yearâ€™s AFCON tournament PhatÅ¡oane had just recorded another milestone in his career being the first Mosotho appointed to represent the Confederation of Southern African Football (COSAFA) region at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
He had also written his name in the history books becoming Lesothoâ€™s first to officiate at the Under-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, 2019.
At the same ceremony, the Presidential Special award was also awarded to Mehalalitoe captain Boitumelo Rabale after she became the first Mosotho footballer, male or female to win a CAF championâ€™s league title with her club, Mameloli Sundowns of South Africa in 2021.