Matsoso’s COSAFA dream up in smoke  

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Midfielder Luciano Matsoso, a COSAFA Cup Gold medallist, has been dealt a huge blow after he was unexpectedly dropped from the team that will be on duty when the tournament gets underway in South Africa next Tuesday. Matsoso, who plays for the ABC Motsepe side, Wits FC, has been dropped from the Lesotho senior national team twice in less than four months.

He was first left out of the team by the just-resigned Likuena coach, Thabo Senong, who explained his main reason for dropping the player in his final team for the Africa Cup of Nation (AFCON) qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Nigeria as merely because at the time he was yet to be given a run at Wits FC after he joined the former South African premiership side from former Lesotho champions Lioli.

Simply put, Senong doubted Matsoso’s match fitness ahead of the Sierra Leone and Nigeria matches.

Matsoso, on the other hand, expressed disappointment, asking how a foreign-based player who was training and playing week in and week could be dropped while home-based players who at the time were totally inactive since football competitions in Lesotho were suspended due to the resurgence of the Covid-19 were selected ahead of him.

Given a call-up in Senong’s team for the recent Three Nations Tournament that included Mozambique and eSwatini, Matsoso was dropped from the squad for the COSAFA before Senong resigned last week after assembling Likuena into camp – with the coach suggesting the player is injured.

As part of the preparations for the COSAFA Cup, Likuena played in the Three Nation tourney in Mozambique in May, and Matsoso was part of that Likuena squad which lost 5-0 to the hosts Mozambique and 1-0 to eSwatini, respectively.

The Mozambique trip was marred by bad behaviour from the players, whom Senong accused of taking illicit drugs while in camp, among other things.

“I am no longer in the squad, he dropped me,” said Matsoso in an interview with Public Eye on Monday this week. “I have only heard that he said I sustained a bad injury and that’s the reason he did consider me for the COSAFA.”

Matsoso further said: “No, I am not injured. I am free from injury and I am training alone in the morning with my fitness trainer. So I am really disappointed because I was looking forward to winning the tournament with Likuena.”

Likuena is now under the guidance of Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) technical director, Leslie Notši, as the care-taker coach who has also overlooked Matsoso in the final squad he announced on Wednesday this week. When he was previously left out the team, Matsoso was so unhappy that he told this paper he was retiring from the national team.

However, the former Lioli and Black Leopards midfield wizard reversed his decision to quit when he received a call-up in Senong’s provisional team in May for the COSAFA Cup.

In an interview with Public Eye then Matsoso said he even cried when he got the news of his call-up. He said: “I am very happy because that’s what I wanted to happen from the beginning. My main aim is to win two or three trophies with the national team before I retire and I am happy to be back to duty.”

 

 

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