The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) will have to fork out M31 million for Likuenaâ€™s participation in the 2026 World Cup and 2024 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers if no sponsors come forward.
This was highlighted by Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) president advocate Salemane Phafane KC during Likuenaâ€™s belated reception from their 2023 COSAFA tournament heroics.
The COSAFA tournament was held in July this year in Durban, South Africa.
Phafane said the government has not been financially supporting the national team for some time now, including for the recent COSAFA tournament. Private sector sponsorships have also dried up, Phafane said.
Yet LeFA intends to send the national team to both the World Cup and CHAN qualifiers, which will cost it M31 million in total.
CHAN is a competition meant for players playing in their countriesâ€™ domestic leagues.
â€œWe have no support but we are going to participate anyway, this is going to be a rough journey for LeFA as we are also going to be forced to play our home matches in South Africa due to the unavailability of Setsoto Stadium,” he said.
He said LeFA spent M900,000 for Likuenaâ€™s appearance in last monthâ€™s COSAFA tournament.
â€œAs we begin the second and third journeys without support, we have budgeted M9 million for the African Nation Championships qualifiers and M22 million for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers,â€ Phafane explained.
Likuena reached the final of the COSAFA tournament for the first time since 2000, where they narrowly lost 1-0 to Zambia, and had to settle for second place with M250,000 prize money.
Phafane further said the prize money from COSAFA would be shared equally among the 34 Likuena players and technical team that participated in the tournament.
He said they decided to appreciate the team as it showed great potential and commitment.
â€œThis is the second time we have reached the COSAFA final as this current squad ended the draught we endured since 2000 when we first reached the final.â€
â€œYou have restored the nationâ€™s hope and trust which had been lost due to the poor performances previously. You have made the nation proud and demonstrated that there is no longer a small nation in football.â€
â€œLeFA has always been reluctant to send the team to the tournament due to poor results but post the COSAFA tournamentâ€™s results, we are convinced otherwise hence we have decided to take on the journey of participating in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and African Nation Championships qualifiers,â€ Phafane stated.
Meanwhile, during the ceremony, LeFA recognised former Finance Minister Dr Timothy Thahaneâ€™s generosity in hosting Likuena for a breakfast session at his Gateway Restaurant by Maseru Bridge ahead of the teamâ€™s departure to Durban last month.
LeFA presented Dr Thahane with a framed Likuena squad photograph, and Likuenaâ€™s replica shirt among other gifts.