Champions League row not over yet

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MASERU — The Premier League has insisted LCS will represent Lesotho in the next African Champions League tournament.

But newly crowned Buddie Premier League champions Lioli are not taking that.

The Teyateyaneng side insist they will be the ones representing Lesotho in the continent’s premier club tournament.

The Champions League is a preserve of national champions although countries that have been successful in the premier tournament have earned extra berths for their runners-up.

Lesotho has one slot.

The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) however failed to register LCS, the 2007-08 champions, in this year’s tournament because the country did not have a venue suitable to host international matches.

The Premier League then decided to compensate LCS by offering to have them play in next year’s Champions League, regardless of where the prisons side finished in the national title race.

LCS could only finish third in the 2008-09 season.

“We discussed this at the beginning of the season and it was decided that LCS would be Lesotho’s representatives in the Champions League in 2010, because they were unable for various reasons to play in the competition this year,” Premier League chairman Tholo Letete (pictured) told the Lesotho Times this week.

The decision was made at a meeting held on August 8 last year, according to Letete.

 “If a team did not take the issue seriously at the time because they thought they would not be champions that is another matter,” Letete said.

But Lioli insist that by virtue of being the national champions they should play in the Champions League, not LCS.

“We are going to the Champions League,” Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana told the Lesotho Times in a separate interview this week.

He said he did not recall any meeting that decreed LCS would play in the Champions League next year.

“We have no recollection of a meeting where we agreed that LCS would play in the Champions League,” Thotanyana said.

“We have asked for minutes of this meeting but we are yet to receive them.

“Besides decisions are made following regulations not consensus.”

Thotanyana said Lioli had been assured by LEFA they would compete in the Champions League while the Premier League sings a different tune altogether.

“The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be cooperation between LEFA and the Premier League,” Thotanyana said.

“The best we can do now is to get hold of the powers-that-be (LEFA and Premier League authorities) because we have not been formally informed of this decision.”

Thotanyana said Lioli were not even considering playing in the second-rate CAF Confederation Cup in which Lesotho is guaranteed a slot.

“We are champions of Lesotho — that is the spirit of the Champions League. It is for league champions,” he said.

“We are not fit for the Confederation Cup.”

Meanwhile, Letete said a venue that meets international standards will be available to host Champions League matches.

Setsoto Stadium, which has been undergoing renovations since last year, is expected to be available by next April.

Letete said Mafeteng’s newly built stadium, as well as another one in Mohale’s Hoek, are on standby for international matches in case Setsoto Stadium is not ready.

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