Phatšoane to fly Lesotho’s flag at World Cup

 NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – Lesotho’s top assistant referee, Souru Phatšoane, will be the country’s first-ever referee to officiate at the World Cup. Phatšoane, 33, has received an invitation to officiate at the upcoming Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup set to take place in Qatar from November 21 to December 18. This was after Phatšoane, together with his international officiating team of the South African duo of Victor Gomes and Zakhele Siwela, had also received invitations to officiate in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) between Senegal and Egypt in February this year.

Phatšoane and his team have once again received invitations to officiate in the final of Total Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League between Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic Club at Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco on May 30. Lesotho Football Association (LeFA)’s Referees’ Co-ordinator, Mohau Sentšo, said they are proud of Phatšoane as the country and the association. “The fact that he is going to the World Cup makes us proud as a country and the association,” said Sentšo in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday this week. “He has never disappointed us and, instead, he always makes us proud.”

Sentšo further said: “He had just officiated at the AFCON final and in a few days he will be officiating at the CAF Champions League final after which it will be the World Cup.” LeFA’s Referee Co-ordinator said the achievements by Phatšoane were very encouraging and said he hoped that would inspire the country’s up-and-coming referees. Phatšoane had also officiated at the recent Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan last year, FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil in 2019, among other big international sporting events.

Sentšo said this was an indication that Lesotho’s refereeing fraternity worked hard. “Even though it would sound as if we think we are better than anyone, Phatšoane’s achievement is testimony that we are working hard in the refereeing department. “So I hope this will also encourage young referees in the country, after noticing Phatšoane’s achievements in refereeing.” Sentšo said LeFA had recently held a FIFA referees course for 30 young referees, 22 boys and eight girls.

He said his office was trying hard to groom young referees so that when Phatšoane and others retire there would be fresh referees to take over. Apart from Phatšoane, one of Lesotho’s female assistant referees, Puleng Mahomo, had recently received an invitation to officiate at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup qualifying match between Ethiopia and Nigeria at the Abebe Bekila Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last Friday. The Flamingoes of Nigeria beat Ethiopia 1-0.

Again, two Lesotho men’s referees, Retšelisitsoe Molise and Siza Dlangamandla had received invitations to officiate at the upcoming Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) tournament scheduled to take place from July 5 to 17 in Durban, South Africa. Meanwhile, the Lesotho referees’ instructors’ duo of Khotso Makhetha and Tšeliso Mosehle have been invited for an Online Instructors Course organised by COSAFA in collaboration with FIFA. The course is set to take place from May 30 to June 2.

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