‘We are broke’

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MASERU — Lesotho will not take part in the qualifiers for the 2012 African Nations Cup because of lack of money, according to the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa)’s acting chief executive officer, Mokhosi Mohapi.
In an exclusive interview with the Lesotho Times, Mohapi fell short of saying it was pointless to have Likuena in the qualifiers when they were not good enough for international competitions.
Likuena last won a competitive international match on March 25 2007 when they defeated Niger 3-1 in a 2008 Nations Cup qualifier at Setsoto Stadium.
Lesotho are one of the seven countries that will not be in the 2012 Nations Cup qualifying draw to be held on February 21.
It is the first time since 1998 that Likuena — who have never played at the Nations Cup finals — will not be participating in the qualifying matches for the biennial competition.
Lefa president Salemane Phafane is expected to address the media tomorrow over the issue.
Mohapi said Lesotho will instead register for the 2014 Nations Cup.
“We need to step back and build a team that we will register for the 2014 edition,” he said.
“I don’t think this is a step backwards if you look at the programmes the president will produce.”
“I see a brighter future,” he added. “It’s not a long time. It’s only a year.”
Mohapi said the main reason for Lesotho’s absence from the next edition of the Nations Cup was that Lefa would find it difficult to raise at least M300 000 needed to host a single qualifying match.
“For an away game the cost is about M250 000 to M275 000,” he said.
Lefa receive a M1 million grant from the government and US$240 000 from the international football body Fifa every year.
But Mohapi said that was not enough to cater for Lesotho’s international assignments.
“There are salaries that need to be paid and also the running of the association,” he said. “It is not enough.”
Mohapi said the prospect of Likuena getting paired with Africa’s football powerhouses that would attract sell-out crowds was not enough to convince Lefa to put Lesotho in the hat for the 2012 draw.
If Lesotho were to be paired against Egypt or Ivory Coast, for example, a full house would be expected at Setsoto Stadium, raking in up to M300 000 in gate-takings.
“For someone who doesn’t deal with it, it is easy to say that,” Mohapi said.
“You have to look at it from an economical point of view.
“What if for the next games we are matched with Guinea-Bissau and Djibouti?
“We are not going to get a group with Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia where every match will be sold out.”
He said even when Likuena were in a qualifying group involving this year’s Nations Cup finalists Ghana, only a sizeable crowd bothered to travel to Bloemfontein, South Africa, which Lesotho had adopted as their home.
“In all fairness how many people watched the team in Bloemfontein?” he said.
“When was the last time a stadium was packed to watch our national team?”
Lesotho’s statistics have also been a major concern.
That they last won a competitive match nearly three years ago speaks volumes about Likuena’s ability.
“If you don’t win matches your CV is hurt,” Mohapi said.
“Physically we can’t compete, technically we are not good enough and it’s tough to get it right tactically if you are lacking technically.”
He said Lesotho’s domestic football had to improve first before the national team could become competitive on the international arena.

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