MASERU – The 2021/22 Lesotho Premier League champions are likely to miss the chance to compete in the continental club football competition. This is highly possible because the 2020/21 Vodacom Premier League season, which is set to resume at the end of this month, will come to an end in April next year, while the 2021/22 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League qualifying rounds are set to start in September 2022.
The 2021/22 domestic football season will still be in its first round at the time, following a temporary suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If this happens, it will be the second time in a row that Lesotho fails to register any team for the continental football club competition.
It has failed to do so for the on-going CAF Champions League following the fact that the 2020/21 season (to be resumed) was already behind scheduled in relation to the international football calendar which usually starts either in August or September.
“It is obvious when you look at the fixtures we have just released that even this time around we could not be able to have a team for the CAF Champions League, but we haven’t decided yet,” said Premier League Management Committee (PLMC)’s Communications and Marketing Manager, Qamako Mahao, in an interview with Public Eye.
“But signs are there which shows that if we finish our league sometime in April, we may not be able to have a team to register for the next CAF Champions League.” To avoid that, PLMC earlier decided to abandon the league so that it could prepare for a new season in order to finish on time and register its champions for the next continental club football competition.
But the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) did not entertain the decision by the PLMC after the A Division and other lower leagues decided to resume with their competitions. LeFA has, instead, agreed to assist each of the 16 Vodacom Premier League clubs with the sum of M27, 500 each for them to resume the league.“The Lesotho Football Association would like to inform the football fraternity that the National Executive Committee at its meeting with the presidents of the Premier League clubs on Tuesday, October 26, mutually agreed on the resumption of the league and the completion of the remaining games of the 2020/21 football season,” reads LeFA’s media statement.
“The NEC (National Executive Committee) and the clubs’ presidents have also agreed on what they mutually termed the starter-pack support package in terms whereof the Premier League clubs will each receive support from LeFA in the sum of M27, 500 to enable them to prepare and resume the games.”
The statement further reads: “The meeting also agreed that the Premier League clubs will have five weeks pre-season type of preparation before the league resumes and that PLMC will issue a fixture.” LeFA has also promised to negotiate the release of some of the grounds on behalf of the clubs. “The NEC and clubs leadership highlighted the importance of ensuring the vaccination of all players and officials prior to the resumption of the games,” the statement read.
Mahao said as far as football was concerned, LeFA as the local football mother body made the final decisions. “They (LeFA) gave the money to the teams after the establishment of an Ad hoc Committee, even though we had proposed more than that. But that’s not where the issue is.”
Mahao further said: “Remember that as the Premier League we have never said the games should be stopped but rather said we wanted to start a new season as soon as possible so that we could be able to meet FIFA and CAF’s dates even if COVID-19 may interrupt our league.” But Mahao said they would have to resume the league now that LeFA had ordered PLMC to do so.
“Now that LeFA said we should resume the league and also gave the money, we are definitely going to do so because they are the decision-makers and the authority.” The league is set to resume on November 27 with four catch-up matches: between LDF FC and Kick4Life; Bantu and Linare; LCS and Swallows; and CCX FC and LMPS FC. The 2020/21 local season was shelved in the beginning of the first round when the league was forced to stop because of the COVID-19 pandemic four months ago.