Maliehe soldies on
LIKUENA coach Moses Maliehe remains confident the national side will acquit itself well against Algeria on Sunday despite a players’ allowances row that threatened to derail the trip to the North African country.
The match against Algeria is the last fixture of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers although the Desert Foxes have already qualified for the continental football showpiece to be held next year in Gabon. The players had threatened not to travel to Algeria until their outstanding monies was settled.
According to a Likuena player who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) owed them camping allowances from as far back as prior to their participation at the regional COSAFA Cup played in May this year in Namibia.
However, according to Maliehe, the players and LEFA were able to resolve the issue, with the team departing for the North African country on Tuesday morning.
Asked if the dispute had affected the team ahead of the tie against the number oneranked team in Africa, the Likuena gaffer said: “Of course, the issue affected the morale of the team. The circumstances in which we left the country for Algeria were far from ideal.
“But we will do our best despite those conditions. The players know what is expected of them, and also know they will face off with the best team on the continent.”
Maliehe said he expected the government, through the Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation ministry to bring the matter to finality.
“It was a difficult situation and put LEFA in the spotlight even though most Likuena activities are supposed to be financed by the ministry,” he said.
“I hope the ministry will intervene so this matter is resolved once and for all. As coaches, we are more concerned with what happens in the field of play than off it. We try our best to motivate the players although it cannot be easy.”
Maliehe added United States-based Jane “Sunny” Tšotleho to the squad alongside Bantu’s Thabiso Mohapi, while Kick4life’s Thabiso Brown replaced the injured Thabo Seakhoa of LCS.
“We will treat the match with the respect it deserves, hence we kept the core of the team that performed very well at the COSAFA Cup,” Maliehe said.
“Tšotleho could not be part of the team that played in Namibia because his team could not release him.
“But he has always done well, and this group of players deserves to continue to grow together.”
For its part, LEFA issued a statement saying a few of the national team players “tried to hold the association at ransom” by demanding M20 000 per player.
“On Monday evening, a few of the Lesotho senior national team players attempted to hold the Lesotho Football Association to ransom claiming allowances amounting to M20 000 per player,” reads the statement.
“The association has, for a long time, stated the M5 000 allowances per game have never been part of the Lesotho Football Association’s policy.” The football mother body also insists the M5 000 allowances were never part of the ministry’s policy.
“The Lesotho Football Association categorically states that the M20 000 that those players were demanding was never promised to the players at any stage by either the association or the ministry.
“The Lesotho Football Association’s National Executive Committee, the Premier League Management Committee and the Club Presidents/leadership of the players who have been selected to the National Team met with the players and the situation has been resolved.”
Algeria top Group J and could be joined in qualifying by second-placed Ethiopia as one of the four best runners-up.
Likuena are at the bottom of the group with three points having managed just one victory against Seychelles.
Likuena coach Moses Maliehe (second from right) instructs players during a match played at Setsoto Stadium in this file picture.