Cosafa de­ba­cle a sad re­flec­tion of our foot­ball

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

LIKUENA’S dis­ap­point­ing per­for­mance at the Coun­cil of South­ern Africa Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (Cosafa) cur­rently un­der­way in South Africa, was a sad re­flec­tion of the poor stan­dard of soc­cer in our beloved coun­try.

The rot starts at ad­min­is­tra­tion level where the beau­ti­ful game has con­tin­ued to suf­fer while some ad­min­is­tra­tors are happy to get al­lowances trav­el­ling across the globe on “Fifa as­sign­ments”.

Yet de­spite im­mense sac­ri­fice from clubs such as Bantu and Li­oli to up­lift the game, it is clear there is still a long way to go be­fore we reach that level where we can com­pete with the best in our re­gion and be­yond.

The fact that we have still not won the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion launched way back in 1997, and al­most al­ways strug­gle to make it past the group stage, should ring alarm bells at the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Lefa) head­quar­ters.

But I be­lieve clubs are equally guilty of fail­ing our game as they have not been able to turn pro­fes­sional which, in turn, was go­ing to change our na­tional team’s for­tunes.

Turn­ing to our foot­ball grounds, to say they are a joke is but an un­der­state­ment be­cause most don’t de­serve to host a match of premier­ship sta­tus. How­ever, it doesn’t ap­pear as if this lack of proper play­ing in­fra­struc­ture is go­ing to be ad­dressed any­time soon, and the play­ers will con­tinue plod­ding on sur­faces that do not do jus­tice to their tal­ents.

And while cer­tain quar­ters were happy that two Li­oli and Likuena play­ers had found em­ploy­ment in the po­lice, I was a bit dis­ap­pointed to see the duo — Tšepo Se­tu­ru­mane and Ba­sia makepe — aban­don­ing their po­ten­tially money-spin­ning ca­reers for a job that will not even pay them m10 000 a month.

The two were among the best young play­ers in this coun­try and I don’t be­lieve they will ever reach their true po­ten­tial now that they are go­ing to work as po­lice of­fi­cers be­cause they won’t be fo­cus­ing on their foot­ball.

What I’m try­ing to say here is many of our play­ers have not been able to fo­cus on their game be­cause they need to find other ways to earn a living since our foot­ball hardly pays.

This means even with na­tional duty on the hori­zon, the play­ers still need to go to their for­mal em­ploy­ment and some­times then miss cru­cial train­ing ses­sions be­cause of work com­mit­ments.

It hap­pened at times be­fore our team left for rusten­burg for the on­go­ing Cosafa tour­na­ment, and the re­sults were there for ev­ery­one to see — two losses and one win, and an early exit from a com­pe­ti­tion Le­sotho were sup­posed to dom­i­nate con­sid­er­ing we had sent an ex­pe­ri­enced squad un­like our com­peti­tors who de­cided to go for youth.

The bot­tom line is there is no other road to suc­cess apart from hav­ing a pro­fes­sional league or play­ers sign­ing for top clubs out­side the coun­try. I also feel it is time our foot­ball bosses change their ap­proach when it comes to spon­sor­ship.

Like I said a few weeks ago, it’s an in­sult that our league cham­pi­ons get m200 000 for win­ning the big­gest prize in do­mes­tic foot­ball.

A club like Bantu re­cently had to spend m80 000 for the op­er­a­tion of star-striker Tse­bang Le­bata, who had been side­lined the en­tire 2014/15 sea­son.

Le­bata could not prac­tice his craft sim­ply be­cause his team could not raise the re­quired funds.

Yet if our foot­ball was ad­e­quately spon­sored, m80 000 should not have been a prob­lem for a club as big as Bantu, hence why our ad­min­is­tra­tors should em­pha­sise the need to in­ject more fund­ing to po­ten­tial or ex­ist­ing spon­sors.

on the other hand, the A Divi- sion went the whole 2014/15 sea­son with­out a spon­sor, and as we speak, the premier­ship man­age­ment is hav­ing sleep­less nights be­cause Vo­da­com is yet to pro­nounce it­self on whether or not it would re­new its spon­sor­ship of the topflight league.

If Lefa of­fi­cials are se­ri­ous about im­prov­ing our foot­ball, then they should de­clared that it is in a cri­sis state be­cause we can­not com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally while our leagues are strug­gling to get mean­ing­ful spon­sor­ship. our clubs have also failed dis­mally in con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions, and if this is not a cri­sis, then I don’t know what is.

Foot­ball is the num­ber one sport in this coun­try, but has still failed to reach a stage where it can bring joy to the thou­sands of Ba­sotho who fol­low it so re­li­giously.

Tsoanelo Koe­tle (left) evades Zweli nxumalo of swazi­land dur­ing the 2015 Cosafa Cup match at Royal Bafo­keng sta­dium on satur­day.

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