World Cup qualifier preps in limbo

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MASERU — Senior national football team players have expressed concern over delays to start preparations for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers which begin in June.

Likuena take on Ghana and Sudan in June.

The Lesotho national team face the Black Stars of Ghana in a tough Group D opening match on the first weekend of June away in Accra.

They engage in another testing encounter against Sudan at Setsoto Stadium on June 10.

But with less than six weeks before the tricky encounters Lesotho’s preparations appear in total disarray.

The Leslie Notsi-coached side has not played a match since a humiliating loss to Sao Tomè and Principe in January when the lowly ranked Portuguese-speaking country knocked Lesotho out of the 2013 African Nations Cup preliminary round qualifiers with a 1-0 aggregate win.

The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has been hogging the headlines for the wrong reasons.

The association has failed to pay salaries of their senior staff since January. Last month all staff members, including those serving notices after being retrenched, were also not paid.

Senior players who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week said the poor preparations will come back to haunt the nation come June.

“We are in a group that has African champions Zambia and powerhouse Ghana. Even Sudan cannot be taken lightly. We have to be serious with our preparations if we are to compete for a spot in Brazil with the three countries,” the player who requested anonymity said.

He added it was unforgivable that “we lost to a small football country like Sao Tomé earlier in the year”.

“This should have not happened had we prepared well for the game,” he said.

He said it was sad to see what is happening with the national team and the association.

Zambia, Ghana, and Sudan all participated in the recent African Cup of Nations tournament co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Speaking in an interview with the Lesotho Times on Monday, Lefa chief executive officer, Mofihli Makoele, however said all is in place for the team to begin their preparations for the June matches.

Makoele said despite all the worries associated with the financial state of the association, Likuena would honour the upcoming fixtures against Ghana and Sudan.

He said Lesotho is still well on time to have good preparations for the two ties.

Lefa hopes to secure Likuena some friendly matches before the Ghana game to fine-tune their preparations.

“The key to the two matches is to have early preparations. Further to that we need good coordination between the premier league and the association as we prepare for crucial games against two top African sides,” Leslie Notsi, Likuena head coach, said.

“We all know that Ghana is a top team, and we have to pull out all the stops to fight them.

Notsi said the team would report for camp in the last week of April for medical tests.

“First, we are going to look at the mental and physical conditions of the players before we can call them for full time camp,” Notsi said.

Meanwhile, Motlatsi Maseela who was capped 84 times for the senior national team said it was sad to see the association repeating the same mistakes that happened during his playing days.

Maseela who was part of the Likuena team that lost to Zimbabwe in the finals of the Cosafa tournament in 2000 hanged up his boots in 2008.

“It has become a habit for the national team to prepare late for crucial matches. I am afraid we are going to experience the same problems we encountered against Sao Tome and other matches before that.

“There is no doubt that football has suffered, we want to see it improving but that is not happening at the moment and we need to change the way we are doinging things,” Maseela said.

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