Noth­ing wrong with switch­ing al­le­giances

Lesotho Times - - Sport - with mikia Kalati

THE in­clu­sion of two South African play­ers, Te­boho Li­lane and Moloisane Ra­masi­mong, in the Likuena squad by coach, Moses Maliehe, for friendlies against Botswana and Namibia hit a snag at the 11th hour when the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (LEFA) de­vel­oped cold feet.

This was mainly at­trib­uted to the on-go­ing Bantu FC scan­dal where Li­oli chal­lenged the Mafeteng side’s ir­reg­u­lar regis­tra­tion of for­eign play­ers.

I am not wor­ried about the case but the con­fu­sion that has em­anated from this scan­dal has dis­rupted the plans of the na­tional team.

First of all, I do not see any­thing wrong if Maliehe called the play­ers and they were will­ing to switch al­le­giance to Le­sotho in­stead of South Africa.

Both are play­ing for lo­cal teams and have been on top of their game through-out the sea­son.

In the case of Ra­masi­mong, it took him time to set­tle af­ter he joined the club last sea­son, but he has been a marvel to watch for A Matšo Mate­bele this sea­son.

He was out­stand­ing in the CAF Cham­pi­ons League home loss to Mba­bane Swal­lows at Set­soto Sta­dium in Fe­bru­ary to prove that he is also a player for the big oc­ca­sions.

I un­der­stand why the Likuena coach is tempted to have him play for Le­sotho along with Li­lane.

Frankly speak­ing, their chances of rep­re­sent­ing South Africa are slim given that the coun­try has a big­ger pool of play­ers to choose from.

Surely, they could give a few good years for Likuena.

This prac­tice of switch­ing al­le­giances has be­come pop­u­lar world-wide and the foot­ball gov­ern­ing body, FIFA, has also made the rules flex­i­ble be­cause they are aware of chal­lenges that play­ers go through in dif­fer­ent stages of the game.

This flex­i­bil­ity has be­come help­ful for most African play­ers who go to Europe at an early age or are born in that part of the world and are tempted to rep­re­sent these de­vel­oped coun­tries.

A no­tice­able ex­am­ple is Wil­fred Zaha of Côte d’ivoire, who ear­lier in his ca­reer had de­cided to play for Eng­land turn­ing out for their youth teams as well as the se­nior team in a friendly match.

The winger, later, through the help of the Ivo­rian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion, wrote to FIFA to switch al­le­giance from Eng­land to Côte d’ivoire, his coun­try of birth.

Then there is Diego Costa, he played twice for his na­tive Brazil in 2013, but later de­clared his de­sire to rep­re­sent Spain, hav­ing been granted Span­ish ci­ti­zen­ship in Septem­ber 2013. He made his de­but for his adopted na­tion in March 2014, and rep­re­sented them at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

All I am say­ing is that we have foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tors who know all the pro­ce­dures to be fol­lowed if they see the need for Likuena to utilise the ser­vices of the two play­ers and any other for­eign play­ers play­ing in the coun­try, who might be in­ter­ested in play­ing for Likuena.

Yes, I agree that at this stage, the tim­ing might not be right based on this case in­volv­ing Bantu and Li­oli, but it’s some­thing that the as­so­ci­a­tion should con­sider go­ing for­ward be­cause I think some of the play­ers can give the na­tional team coaches op­tions.

At the same time, I also un­der­stand wor­ries of foot­ball pun­dits who were un­happy with the ex­clu­sion of Setho Moshoeshoe and Retha­bile Selonyane of Liphakoe and Linare re­spec­tively.

The two strik­ers are among for­wards fight­ing for the Golden Boot in the Econet Premier League and I think they have also done enough to have at least been given a chance to show what they can do at the na­tional team level.

Of course, the Likuena coach has promised to give them a chance and I hope he keeps his word be­cause scor­ing goals has been one of the wor­ries for the na­tional team.

South african born duo Te­boho Li­lane (left) and Moloisane Ra­masi­mong dur­ing Likuena train­ning ses­sion.

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