Saddened by non-selection in final team list
MASERU – Footballer Luciano Matsoso has quit the national team as a consequence of his failure to make Coach Thabo Senong’s final list for the national team’s forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) games.
In an emotional interview with Public Eye, Matsoso angrily revealed he was unhappy to have been dropped from the Likuena squad assembled to play Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the AFCON Qualifiers.
The angry Matsoso said as a result he had made up his mind to retire from the national team. Matsoso said this week that he will no longer play international football for Lesotho following the fallout. “I have decided to retire from the national team, no matter who is the coach. I will never accept any national call up or any call, and they must stop playing with my name.”
Likuena host Sierra Leone at Setsoto Stadium tomorrow before taking on Nigeria away from home next week Tuesday. Matsoso, who currently plays for the ABC Motsepe League side, Wits FC, in South Africa said he’s disappointed to be dropped from the team while there are players who he said don’t have teams but have been selected over him.
The former Lioli player said in fact all locally based players lack match fitness since sports activities in Lesotho were suspended from the beginning of the year because of the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic; and, therefore, said it did not make sense that they were selected over him.
“I don’t understand why as a foreign based player who has a team, proper contract, training and who is playing week in and week out could be dropped from the squad while players who don’t have teams and did not train have been selected,” said Motsoso. “So this makes me to ask myself why the national team coach called me from the beginning and later on drop me.” Matsoso said Senong texted him, saying “he’s dropping me because he has three attackers.”
“They don’t have a reason why they dropped me. Coach Thabo Senong has sent me message this morning (last Saturday). “I mean, after you called me up, the next thing you send me a message, telling me that you are dropping me because you have three attackers?” Matsoso further said: “And that has annoyed me and I am so hurt.”
The player, who is also a former player for the DSTV Premiership side, Black Leopards, and MKS Oscar Preyzuch in Poland, was called up to the Likuena provisional squad which was selected last month for the two upcoming AFCON clashes against Sierra Leone and Nigeria. Senong announced his final team for the two encounters on Tuesday this week.
Matsoso is not the only foreign based player who has been dropped from the national team. Tswarelo Bereng, who is a former TS Sporting player in South Africa and currently without a club, has also been dropped from the team – among others.
Former Likuena goalkeeper, Tšepo Mathetha, told this reporter in a separate interview that dropping a foreign based player from a national team is a first with Matsoso.
“You can be dropped as a regular foreign based player. We also experienced the same thing during our time where you would find that we were dropped and called up again,” said Mathetha.
“It might be that the coach has realized that he would not be useful in the upcoming AFCON ties, and you cannot just say you are retiring because of that.” Mathetha further said: “In fact, that’s football challenges and I would advise him to sleep over that decision.”
Lisema Lebokolla, Jane Thabantšo and Lesoetsa Morapeli were ruled out of the two qualifiers due to injuries while Thabiso Brown faced flying challenges out of South America on his way to Lesotho and has had to go back to Bolivia.
“Thabiso Brown was close to coming for the games but encountered logistical problems,” said Likuena coach Senong. “I think he too was a little bit disappointed because he was looking forward to work with us.” Senong said it was the same situation with Matsoso and Bereng.
“It’s the same situation with Luciano Matsoso and Tswarelo Bereng because we had requested that they come and join us very early in our camp since Tswarelo is a free agent and Luciano is also yet to get a work permit; which means he’s yet to play official games, but what is good is that he has been training with the team.
But unfortunately they could not arrive and did not prepare very early with us and so we have to move on,” Senong said. Tšepo Seturumane is also going to miss the two qualifiers. Senong said the player has asked to be excused after missing two training sessions.
“With Seturumane, he did not report to camp and we could not get hold of him for the past two days,” said Senong. “But on the third day we managed to get hold of him and he asked to be excused from the camp, saying he does not feel well.”
Senong further said: “But also he was saying personally he was not in a good space to be part of the team. So we had to allow him with his space.”
Senong also said they were already taking a big risk to call up Seturumane who he said had never trained with his club, LMPS FC, after his last call up to Likuena in November last year for the Benin qualifier.
“He didn’t play any Premier League game since then and so it was a big risk for us since we believe in him because he’s a valuable striker for our team. But unfortunately there were personal things which made him not to commit himself to Likuena’s camp which we respected that.”
Likuena are lying bottom of the Group L, having just collected two points from four matches. Above Likuena are Sierra Leone with three points, while Nigeria and Benin are on top of the group on eight and seven points respectively.
Likuena final squad:
Goalkeepers: Monaheng Ramalefane, Sekhoane Moerane, Ntsane Lichabe.
Defenders: Thabang Malane, Thabo Lesaoana, Basia Makepe, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Nkau Lerotholi, Bokang Sello, Thabo Matšoele.
Midfielders: Tau Masiu, Tumelo Ngatane, Hlompho Kalake, Mokoteli Mohapi, Neo Mokhachane, Litšepe Marabe, Tšepo Toloane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane.
Strikers: Motebang Sera, Tumelo Khutlang, Nkoto Masoabi.