MASERU – All the 16 Vodacom Premier League clubs have been ordered to undergo Covid-19 tests in light of the increasing infection among some of the top-flight club players. The Premier League Management Committee (PLMC)’s Communications and Marketing Manager, Qamako Mahao, said the decision follows four Linare and three Manonyane players testing positive for Covid-19. Mahao said the Linare players tested last week while Manonyane went for tests on Monday this week, prompting the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) to issue the instruction for all premier league clubs to test.
“We are in receipt of a letter from the association that directs all clubs to undergo Covid-19 testing in light of the increasing infection rate in the country which has not spared the football fraternity and led to some matches having to be put in abeyance,” reads a PLMC media statement.
“This is to say that all week 19 matches which were scheduled to play on Wednesday, 12st July 2021 are postponed until further notice.”
The postponed Week 19 matches billed LDF FC against Lioli at Ha Ratjomose ground, Linare-Manonyane at Maputsoe DiFA Stadium, Lifofane-Sefothafotha in Botha-Bothe, Kick4Life-FC Likhopo at the LCS Ground, LCS FC-Bantu at the LCS ground, Matlama-Swallows at Setsoto Stadium, Lijabatho-LMPS FC in Morija and CCX FC versus Liphakoe at the LAC Ground.
“Linare undertook testing last week after their game against Kick4Life FC and four of their players tested positive, and Manonyane FC also underwent testing on Monday after playing Linare a few days before and three of their players tested positive,” said Mahao in an interview with Public Eye on Tuesday this week.
Mahao continued: “As a result, the infection rate prompted us to take the decision that all the premier league teams must undergo Covid-19 testing and decided that all the games which were scheduled to take place midweek are postponed until we get all cases from the clubs so that we could plan the way forward.”
He further indicated that continuance of the set fixture depended on the testing process, and results received. “It would depend on the process because when you take teams for testing it is going to be like a process because they will not be done all at the same time since they will be testing in different centres and we have learned that other centres are not running mass testing.”
Mahao further admitted that the Vodacom Premier League season is likely to be affected if the infection rate forces them to further postpone their games. But, he said, they will have to adjust. These developments follow the PLMC’s decision not to register any team for the 2021/22 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
One of the reasons behind the PLMC decision, even though Mahao was reluctant to confirm, is because the league has not been finished on time after several intervals due to the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns beginning 2019.
The PLMC, as a result, wants to avoid a similar situation by finishing the current 2020/21 season by next month so that they could start the 2021/22 season on time for the benefit of the country to be able to register the league winners for the next CAF Champions League competition.
“Of course if we are to postpone some games or to suspend our league, it is going to affect our time (framework to finish the current season). “But we are going to adjust accordingly. We are living with the pandemic and we have been emphasising the point that we should learn to live with the pandemic and not to hide or run away from the situation,” he said.
Mahao further said: “It is a reality before us. We have nowhere to go. It is here to live with us and it is not only this year obviously even some years to come we will still have its impact.” The impact of Covid-19 pandemic has worsened in Lesotho’s football, with the government banning fans from attending football matches.
“This has already affected the football terribly. If on weekends FC Likhopo pays M2 000 for a ground to host a match and after that collects nothing since fans are not allowed at stadiums, then we have a problem. You can see the financial implications emanating from that I am sure,” Mahao said.
The 2019/20 season was ended pre-maturely due to the first Covid-19 lockdown in Lesotho in 2019. This was after the season was first suspended, and on average matches left to be played were eight when it was officially ended pre-maturely.