Battered Lioli cry foul

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU - Lioli have lodged another complaint against arch-rivals Bantu, this time accusing them of match fixing-making. This was after Bantu hammered Lioli 4-1 in a crucial league tie at Setsoto Stadium last Sunday. In a letter written to the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA)’s general secretary, Mokhosi Mohapi, and copied to the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC), Lioli executive committee claims that certain senior Bantu officials contacted some of their key players and made offers for them to fix the weekend match.

The letter reads: “It was with a sense of great shock and trepidation that it came to our knowledge as members of the executive committee of Lioli FC, that days before our crunch game with Bantu FC, senior officials in the executive (of Bantu) contacted some of our key players and made overtures to them to bunk our game with them.” Lioli further indicate in the letter that the names of the suspects and their cell phone numbers were known to them, promising to furnish them to LeFA in due course. “For now we can just say that it was the CMM and Vice President, to mention just a few,” the letter says.

It further adds: “It is our considered opinion that the said conduct is not only unprofessional, but it is also a transgression of the sporting code, both nationally and internationally.” Lioli furthermore state that since the disciplinary case over Bantu’s unlawful registration of foreign players, rumours are making rounds that members of Lioli’s executive committee, especially the President and the 1st Vice President, should watch their backs as there’s a plot to assassinate them.

Lioli claim Bantu do not regard the case as a genuine football matter, but instead view it as something completely different.“Initially, we had taken the threats as simple rumours, however yesterday (Sunday), an individual sitting in the back of a dark blue unmarked van was caught taking pictures of our 1st Vice President’s motor-vehicle and upon being confronted about this, he said he was taking those pictures to go and show his folk back home what was happening in Maseru,” the letter says.

The incident, Lioli’s letter says may appear innocuous but it certainly raised suspicion when viewed in light of the said rumours. “One wonders why of all the vehicles around Maseru, focus should be on the 1st Vice President’s vehicle? “We therefore humbly request the intervention of your good office, especially in respect of the match-fi xing allegations in the name of the football fraternity in this country,” the letter also states.

Lioli president, Lebohang Thotanyana told Public Eye on Tuesday that they were alerted about the match-fi xing allegations before the match began and they reported the matter to both PLMC and the match commissioner. He said they consequently wrote to LeFA on Monday. Bantu’s communications and marketing manager, Bokang Phasumane, has denied the allegations about alleged match-fi xing, saying they never communicated with Lioli players. “That’s not true. I never talk to Lioli players

We only heard about the accusations on social networks and Lioli’s spokesperson who was talking in one of the local radio stations.” Phasumane said Lioli’s executive committee should prove the accusations in court and identify the players they claim he called.Attempts to get comments from both LeFA’s general secretary, Mohapi and Bantu president, John Leuta failed as they did not answer their mobile phones.

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