MASERU — Sports Minister ‘Mathabiso Lepono has thrown her weight behind the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) in the week the soccer body allegedly bunked a parliamentary hearing.
Lepono was expected to appear before the parliamentary committee responsible for sport together with Lefa and Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) representatives.
The parliamentary committee wanted Lefa to explain why it had not entered Lesotho in the draw for the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers.
But none of them including the minister attended the meeting scheduled for Tuesday.
Lepono told the Lesotho Times yesterday that she had not boycotted the meeting because she was not aware of it in the first place.
“As sports minister I’ve not received an invitation from the social cluster (committee) to attend a meeting concerning Likuena,” Lepono said.
“It is not true that I’ve been invited and declined to attend because in actual fact I’ve not been invited.”
LSRC chief executive officer Kholoang Mokalanyane also denied the commission had received summons to appear before the parliamentary committee headed by opposition MP Libe Moremoholo.
“We did not receive such a letter inviting us to a meeting with the parliamentary committee responsible for sports,” Mokalanyane said.
“This is the first time I’m hearing about it. What was the agenda of the meeting and when was it?”
Lefa officials could not be reached for comment.
Moremoholo, however, insisted Lefa and LSRC officials as well as the minister had “disrespected” the committee by not attending the meeting.
“The meeting did not proceed because those people did not attend,” he said.
“They’ve made a very big mistake by not attending the meeting.”
Moremoholo could not say what action the committee was going to take.
Lepono, meanwhile, said she supported Lefa’s decision to suspend Likuena, the senior national team, from international competitions.
Lefa did not register Likuena for the 2012 Nations Cup because of financial constraints and fears that the team was not good enough to compete at international level.
The football mother body said it would focus on youth teams to build a competitive senior national side for the future.
“If Lefa says they are developing the team and the results of the Under-17 and 20 sides give us hope, I am fully behind them,” Lepono said.
Lepono said the disbanded national team had failed to prove they could compete in international matches even when the government provided incentives.
“Those players failed to perform even after we gave them M8 000 per player for each appearance,” Lepono said, referring to Lesotho’s disastrous campaign in the 2010 Nations Cup qualifiers.
“I am with them (Lefa) 100 percent because we need a team that can fight and might even win competitions.”