Lika­tola await fate

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

THE na­tional rugby team could pay dearly for fail­ing to play one of their two matches at the re­cent Africa Cup Di­vi­sion 2 tour­na­ment held in Rwanda.

Lika­tola, as the team is called, ar­rived late for the four-na­tion event which also in­volved the Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo (DRC), Bu­rundi and the hosts.

Le­sotho were sup­posed to play their first match against the DRC on 19 May, with a win tak­ing them to the fi­nal against ei­ther Bu­rundi or Rwanda. But af­ter miss­ing the DRC match and for­feit­ing the game to their op­po­nents, Le­sotho could only fight for a third-place fin­ish against Bu­rundi on 21 May.

Lika­tola went on to beat Bu­rundi 6-3 while the DRC beat Rwanda 12-9 to win the tour­na­ment but Fed­er­a­tion of Le­sotho Rugby sec­re­tary gen­eral, Litšitso Motšeremeli, be­lieves the team could have clinched the event and been el­e­vated to Africa 1C Level. Le­sotho are cur­rently not ranked by the Rugby Africa hence they were so de­ter­mined to do well at the tour­na­ment.

“We left here on the same day we were sup­posed to play our first match.

“This was be­cause we only re­ceived funds for the trip very late from the Min­istry of Sports, and could not get a flight to Ki­gali in time for our game against the DRC,” Motšeremeli said.

“We re­ally don’t know where the de­lay was be­cause the Min­is­ter of Sports had promised that funds would be avail­able on time dur­ing a meet­ing with the lead­er­ship of dif­fer­ent sports as­so­ci­a­tions prior to our trip to Rwanda.”

De­spite the set­back, Motšeremeli said the win against Bu­rundi — the first for Lika­tola out­side the coun­try af­ter get­ting the bet­ter of Swazi­land here at home — had pro­vided the play­ers with some con­so­la­tion. But still, that win could count for naught.

“The play­ers turned the neg­a­tives of their late ar­rival into a pos­i­tive to beat Bu­rundi,” said Motšeremeli.

“But we be­lieve we could have ended in first po­si­tion if we had played all the matches so we could get pro­mo­tion to a higher level of con­ti­nen­tal rugby and qual­ify to get fi­nan­cial as­sis­tant from World Rugby.

“Our play­ers de­serve credit be­cause un­like us, both Bu­rundi and Congo have been play­ing the sport for a long time and are al­ready get­ting fund­ing from the World Rugby fed­er­a­tion.

“The fund­ing ob­vi­ously helps them im­prove the sport in their re­spec­tive coun­tries so our win proved there is a lot of po­ten­tial in our team.

“For now all we have to do is wait and see if we qual­i­fied for the Africa 1C level,” he said.

Asked about the late-dis­burse­ment of funds as al­leged by Motšeremeli, the Min­istry of Gen­der, Youth, Sport and Re­cre­ation se­nior in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, Thethiwe Makara, said she would only be in a po­si­tion to com­ment to­mor­row af­ter check­ing with the ac­counts de­part­ment.

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