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LEFA casts net wider for players

The Lesotho Football Association has opened its doors to Basotho football players in the diaspora to bolster Likuena’s ambitions to qualify for major continental and international competitions. The Likuena squad that will today complete their tour of South Africa, where they have been playing training matches against Mozambique and South Africa, has five players scouted from foreign leagues.

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The new faces in the team, who are already playing their football in South Africa consists of Black Leopards midfielder, Tlotliso Phatsisi, who hails from Mapoteng in Berea, but has never played topflight football in the country.

Phatsisi only came close to joining Linare and Kick4Life before he was signed by Free State Stars when they were campaigning in the South Africa First Division.
18-year-old Tumelo Shai, who plays for Kaizer Chiefs, is another player in the squad and was given a run in the 2-0 loss against Mozambique alongside Phatsisi and Mosoeu Mosoeu, who plays for Mangaung United in the lower division of South African football.

Thato Sefoli is an experienced campaigner, who plays for Upington City, who are fourth in the South Africa Motsepe Foundation Championship, which is the league below the Premier League.

The players were given a run again in a practice match against Sekhukhune United, where the technical team tested another player, Fusi Matlabe, who plays his football in the ABC Motsepe league in South Africa.

Likuena already has the likes of Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng and Tshwarelo Bereng playing in the South African elite leagues and with several others in Botswana such as Neo Mokhachane, Motlomelo Mkwanazi and Bokang Sello.

LEFA secretary general Mokhosi Mohapi is adamant the Lesotho players plying their trades in professional leagues such as South Africa have a big role to play in helping Likuena qualify for major continental competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations.

“It has come to our attention that Lesotho has one of the oldest national teams in the region, if not on the continent. Together with this, the team had been stagnant for some years. In other words, the team had the same faces for a long time, and it was important that the squad gets revamped,” he said.

“Also, we need to get in reinforcements to the team from the local and diaspora environment. We have a strategic plan that speaks to qualification to the continental competitions, and in pursuit of the provisions in the strategic plan, we then had to cast our net wider,” he said.

Mohapi said the association will continue to hunt for more Basotho players that can help Likuena become a regional and continental force after reaching the final of the 2023 COSAFA Cup.

The national team also have continental giants such as Nigeria a run for their money in recent World Cup qualifiers.

“The players who have been included in the current team seem to have what it takes to take on the challenges. This is the first batch of players that have been invited to the team. It is a pity that it has taken time to bring the diaspora players into the environment. Remember, there were coaches who had their own way of thinking and working,” Mohapi said.

“We could not force them to use them if they felt they didn’t want to. The current coaches have been open to the pursuit of bringing the diaspora players into the team. There are several other players who are interested in representing their motherland and we will give them opportunities.

“There were people who wanted us to do the wrong thing of naturalising players of West African origin, we refused because that would have been wrong and unethical. We resolved to stay compliant with the provisions of FIFA eligibility and we did our research and we had to confirm our compliance and it is working,” he said.

Mikia Kalati

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