Minister of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation Likeleli Tampaneâ€™s threat to not support the senior national menâ€™s football team Likuena seems to be coming true with the turn of every corner of the national teamâ€™s journey. This following the national soccer-governing body Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) decided not to enroll the team to the 2023 African Nations Championships (CHAN) in Algeria.
LeFA said the reason for the non-enrollment of the senior national team was lack of finances and lack of support from the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation (MGYSR).
â€œThe LeFA would like to inform the media fraternity that due to financial constraints and lack of support from the government through the MGYSR, the senior national team, Likuena has not been enrolled for the upcoming CHAN qualifiers,â€ a statement from LeFA reads.
Likuena has just made entry into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group stages qualifiers after successfully defeating Seychelles in the two-leg preliminary round encounter. Lesotho had to host their home game against Seychelles in South Africa, Soweto at the Dobsonville Stadium earlier this year and is set to continue with the setup for the AFCON qualifiers.
This is because the countryâ€™s only international stadium, Setsoto, has been banned because of being in a poor state. Therefore, the countryâ€™s football governing body indicated that it would be too expensive for it to finance the teamâ€™s participation in all the tournaments as it will also be focusing on preparing the team for the Confederation of Southern African Football (COSAFA) to be held in South Africa.
â€œThe association spent over M2 million for the recent preliminary round clash against Seychelles having had to host its home game at the Dobsonville Stadium in South Africa as Setsoto remains suspended from hosting international matches. Likuena will now focus on the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations group stage qualifying campaign as well as participating in the COSAFA Cup to be staged in July in South Africa,â€ LeFA said.
This has been the case despite their being the purview of the ministry, which has consistently decried bankruptcy as it has failed to cover its end of the responsibility of preparing the national team for its assignments, all of which happen in sharp contrast with the ministerâ€™s declaration that she would not support a Likuena which did not feature players from her Mokhotlong district while she is the minister responsible for sports.
It has however been the contention of those in hindsight defence of the minister that her statement had been taken out of context as a minister would not stop playing her role of carrying responsibility of the team.
Speaking to fanatics in her Senqu #78 constituency under the co-ruling Democratic Congress (DC), the minister had indicated that would be remiss of her as a minister of sports to support a Likuena team which did not have representation of her home town in the plyers who play in it.
Failure by Likuena to be enrolled for CHAN will be a big blow to locally-based players who mostly were looking forward to getting a chance to play for the national team since the CHAN tournament is meant for those who play in the countryâ€™s domestic leagues.
Meanwhile, the ministryâ€™s Information Officer Maqalika Matsepe said the ministry is still unable to fund anything as they have not been afforded funds from the ministry of finance since the budget allocations.
â€œIt is unfortunate that the ministry indeed cannot assist LeFA with finances and it is not only them, but all other associations because the ministry is still waiting for money from the finance ministry to be allocated to all our departments. â€œSince last year the ministry has been without funds and we have been hoping that things would change after this yearâ€™s budget allocations,â€ Matsepe said.