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Blow for Lesotho’s next soccer champions

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – The Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) stands by its earlier decision not to register any team for the 2021/22 Confederation of African Football (CAF) clubs and squads competitions.

The continent’s football governing body had earlier set June 30, 2021, for the submission of clubs by member federations to take part in the competitions and July 10 to 31 for players’ registration. But because several African countries such like Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Ghana, among others, have yet to complete their local competitions for the 2020/21 season largely due to calendar challenges in dealing with Covid-19 pandemic. This is the same case with the Lesotho top-flight football league, Vodacom Premier League, which has just started its second round of the 2020/21 season. According to international media, some of the federations requested special dispensation as their seasons are scheduled to be completed this month.

After consideration, CAF has moved the deadline for the submission of representatives for the two interclub competitions, CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup, back by one month, until July 31. Originally, international media stated, clubs were confirmed by their respective squads. However, the squad registration deadline has now been moved to August 15, 2021. “This extension gives CAF member associations more time to complete their seasons and indentify clubs that will represent them in Africa,” wrote international media. The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) had announced last Friday that they received the PLMC’s recommendation not to register a team in the upcoming clubs CAF competitions.

“The Lesotho Football Association’s National Executive Committee has received the Premier League Management Committee’s recommendation of the Association not enrolling a team in the 2021 CAF Champions League,” read LeFA’s press release. “This comes against the backdrop that CAF has set the deadline for the enrolment of clubs for the 15th July 2021 and indications are that the Premier League will not have been concluded by that date.” The Secretary General (Mokhosi Mohapi), LeFA’s press release further indicates, will accordingly inform the CAF secretariat about this matter.

However, Public Eye has been reliably informed that after CAF has extended the deadline, both LeFA and PLMC officials had a meeting on Tuesday to further deliberate on the issue of the registration.   But PLMC’s Communications and Marketing Manager (CMM), Qamako Mahao, told Public Eye yesterday that his committee still stands by its earlier decision not to register any team for the continental football competitions for the 2021/22 season. “We still stand by our position,” said Mahao. “We had a very good meeting with the SG (Secretary General of LeFA, Mohapi), his deputy Chris Bullock and President Salemane Phafane.

“He (Phafane) came with a very good speech to be honest, wishing that we could reverse our decision but when we examine all logistics as well as consulting qualifications conditions, and SG disclosing to us all those scenarios, we have realised that we are not in any way to have a team to represent Lesotho in the CAF competitions this time around.” Mahao further said: “There are so many challenges and allow me not to disclose them to you now because we need to go and represent them before the clubs themselves.”

Lesotho has over the years been represented by one team, being the league winners at the CAF Champions league, unlike some decades ago when it used to also be represented at the then CAF Cup Winners Cup (now being the CAF Confederation Cup). Bantu were the last team to represent the country at the 2020/21 CAF Champions League and were knocked out in the preliminary stage of the competition by Nkana Red Devils of Zambia by a 1-0 goal-aggregate.

 

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