The real work for Phafane begins now
SALEMANE Phafane retained the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) presidency at last Saturday’s special congress which was held at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in Maseru.
Although he was re-elected unopposed, it is not a secret that the football fraternity is divided as to whether or not Phafane deserves a third term in charge of soccer’s governing body.
Prior to the congress, his colleagues in the LEFA executive committee particularly Public Relations Officer, Thabo Maretlane, sang his praises, claiming he had done so much to improve the standards of football in the country.
That is not necessarily wrong in itself but beyond the praise-singing, it cannot be business as usual for the LEFA executive and they must get down to the nitty gritties which include attracting sponsors as the Premier League Management Committee has managed to do.
That could go a long way in helping our national teams to compete better.
The LEFA leadership needs to introspect and accept constructive criticism from fans and the fourth estate without taking it personal.
As the watchdog, the media has every right to criticise whenever there are shortcomings and they certainly are many of those particularly when the statistics prove that we are the whipping boys in the continental and World Cup qualifiers.
This is the time for Ntate Phafane to do things differently and prove to Basotho that he has what it takes to take football to another level.
It should bother all in the LEFA executive that whenever the football fraternity speaks of the best moments of Lesotho football, they talk of the late LEFA president, Thabo Makakole.
With that in mind, I would say that the stage has been set for Ntate Phafane to win hearts and prove that he deserves to be mentioned in the same bracket as the late Makakole.
To start with, Likuena has never reached the final of the regional COSAFA tournament under his leadership and achieving that should be his priority.
It is a shame that the national team has not featured in COSAFA final since its only appearance in 2000.
In fact all our national teams have not been performing well and it is even sad when we cannot even compete with the teams in our region.
The national under-20 teams have been struggling for years to make it past the group stages of the COSAFA Under-20 and that proves that our youth structures are in a mess.
The situation was aggravated by the death of former Likhopo owner Bishop Molato who played a big part in nurturing some of the most talented youngsters to come out of this country.
Our under-20 teams that qualified for the 2005 and 2011 African Youth Championships were mostly made up of Likhopo players proving that we depended on the ability of the late Molatoli to produce young talent.
The recent performance of the ladies team at the ongoing Women’s COSAFA Cup in Zimbabwe where Mehalalitoe were knocked out in the group stages is proof that we are way behind other countries.
Mehalalitoe suffered identical 0-3 losses to South Africa and Botswana in their two opening games before beating Namibia 2-1 in their last game of the group stage.
Women’s football has been receiving funding from FIFA like in other countries and there is no reason that we should so behind our regional counterparts.
These are some of the shortcomings that Ntate Phafane must rectify in his fresh tenure. He has to ensure our teams play friendlies against serious opposition on FIFA dates like other countries do.
It is also time LEFA improved its relationship with the corporate world and enticed some companies to come on board and sponsor its activities including the national teams.
This will help end the long-running rows over allowances between the association and players.
It could also help Lesotho host one of the football powerhouses in a friendly.
If Likuena hosted Nigeria or Egypt at Setsoto Stadium, it would boost our players’ development instead of always playing Swaziland and Botswana.