THE LESOTHO Football Association’s (LeFA) recent announcement of an international friendly between our senior national Likuena and Mozambique is a welcome breath of fresh air after all the doom and gloom that has blighted our sports associations.
The match is slated for 28 March and this is undoubtedly sweet music to the ears of Likuena coach Moses Maliehe who will use the opportunity to assess how far his charges have come in their preparations ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign which gets underway in June.
It is necessary at this juncture to digress and point out that our sports associations have this perception that we love to find fault and are consequently given to negative reportage.
Nothing could be further from the truth which is that as sports writers, ours is not to make the news but to simply report the news as it would have been made by the newsmakers who happen to be the sports personalities and sports administrators themselves.
And so when there is bickering in the associations and when there are shoddy preparations ahead of important sporting events, our job is not to put the golden ring on the snot of the pig. Neither is it our job to spray the most expensive perfume to deodorise what is essentially raw garbage. We tell it as it is, ugly warts and all.
In the same vein, if there is something positive, we tell it as it is.
And that is why we have to give credit to LeFA for finally seeing sense by arranging this friendly for Likuena and especially for doing so within the FIFA international calendar.
True, Mozambique is not Germany or Brazil. It is not even a powerhouse in continental, let alone southern African football, but as an optimist, I choose to think of it as a case of half a loaf being better than no loaf at all.
What is important is that LeFA is now making good use of the FIFA dates and our team will be in action like its counterparts on the continent and beyond.
And Mozambique will certainly be a refreshing change from the usual scenario of Botswana and Swaziland.
Frankly, it had begun to look like it was ordained somewhere or cast in stone that a friendly means coming up against those two countries!
This is just the beginning and I hope there will be no going back on this commitment to LeFA always utilising the FIFA dates to continue arranging matches that would aid the development of Likuena.
It goes without saying that Likuena need adequate preparations ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
This has become an even more urgent after the coach was forced to make several changes to the team following the much publicised withdrawal of some senior players from the team in December 2016.
Lesotho was drawn in the same group as Tanzania, Uganda and Cape Verde.
This is as fair a group as we will ever get and there is no reason why Likuena should not break the jinx and qualify for the continental showcase.
That however, does not mean the qualifiers will be a stroll in the park for us.
Cape Verde have proved their mettle in recent years and they boast a number of players in Portugal’s top flight football league.
Uganda have also done well having returned to this year’s showpiece in Gabon after an absence of 39 years and they gave a good account of themselves despite being eliminated in the group stage.
Tanzania have consistently failed to qualify for the big stage but they are also a good side led by Belgium-based Mbwana Ally Samatta, who is a former African Footballer of the Year based in Africa during his time with Congolese side, TP Mazembe.
Likuena will also play African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers in July, meaning the team has to be in good shape and that can only be achieved through preparations.
All I am saying is that it is only through such friendlies against good opponents that our team can be psychologically and physically ready for big competitions.
I hope such friendlies will become commonplace for our team because the lack of proper preparations has been our biggest undoing.
To LeFA, I say forward ever and backwards never!