The Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation (MGYSR) has rubbished claims made by Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) that the national senior men’s team, Likuena was not financially assisted by the ministry or the government for their participation in the two-leg African Nations Cup (AFCON)Qualifiers clash against Benin.
This after a public spat between the Ministry and the Association about whether or not the former landed a hand in the financing of travel expenses for Likuena to fly out to and fro Benin for the first leg encounter in the Group L clash. LeFA claims the MGYSR practically abandoned the national team logistically for the encounter which happened in two legs in Benin and Lesotho between 14 and 17 November respectively.
In an exclusive interview with Neswday Sport the MGYSR spokesperson Maqalika Matsepe said the football governing body of the country must not be economic with the truth where issues of national importance are concerned.
“There is no way that our national team can go represent us and we fail to finance it, this issue is of public interest and so should be handled properly,” Matsepe said.
He stated that LeFA should stop making misleading statements and acknowledge the truth that the ministry did assist them despite the fact that the process was concluded earlier this year before the Covid-19 outbreak which had forced sports all over the world to be suspended.
“LeFA is not telling the truth that they were not financially assisted by government for Likuena’s trip to Benin, that trip was indeed financed by the ministry and the disbursement of such funds was done in February since the match was supposed to have been played in March but was then postponed due to the pandemic,” Matsepe said.
Matsepe pointed out that although he could not recall the exact figures of the funds disbursed to LeFA in order to set processes in motion for the clash, he insists that the plane ticket to and from Benin were settled a long time ago by the ministry.
Meanwhile, LeFA Secretary General Mokhosi Mohapi had prior to the tie between Lesotho and Benin lamented the government’s failure to assist in preparing national teams for international tournaments.
He said despite several letters to the MGYSR since September this year over the two trips there was never a response.
“Since September, LeFA has written to the ministry about our national teams and Bantu’s assignment but there has never been any response,” Mohapi said.
According to Mohapi due to lack of government assistance, Likuena was faced with the possibility of arriving back home long after the arrival of the visitors which would give them the advantage. He said this because Benin were chartering a flight back to Lesotho while Likuena were going to have to rely on commercial flights.
Chartering a plane from Benin required M1.6 million.
In a statement released on Wednesday, LeFA condemned claims made by the Minister Likeleli Tampane saying that the return leg trip to Lesotho was fully funded by the Benin government thus inferring that the players Likuena hitched a hike on the Benin ride.
LeFA scoffed at the Tampane claims which they labeled “…baseless and misinformed statements regarding the chartered flight used to fly Likuena and Benin in Lesotho ahead of their today’s (Tuesday) reverse fixture at Setsoto Stadium”.
LeFA said the Minister was not part of the reciprocal agreement that was made by the two associations and she had no business discussing the deal in the media.
“That as a matter of fact, the Minister had absolutely no interest in how the national team travelled to and from Benin. Her ministry chose not to contribute even a cent towards the team despite having been told back in September about the trip and financial requirements.
“As such she has no business involving herself in how the team travelled now that it is back home, when she looked away when she was supposed to help it travel to and from Benin,”
It concludes by mentioning that the two associations reached an agreement based on the challenges brought by having to play the back-to-back fixtures within a short space of time which is three days in Benin and Lesotho.
Meanwhile in the same light, it would appear that the Lesotho-Benin return match attracted more controversy than would have been bargained for.
On the eve of the match, the Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro and Minister Tampane was spotted at a dinner event of the Benin team players alongside their sport minister in what brought the question of whether the premier and sport minister’s presence at the dinner was to motivate the opponents’ team against the home team.
However, Majoro chose one local radio in what he termed setting the record straight on the allegations. He pointed out that he had not hosted the foreign team to a kind of pre-war last supper as largely professed but rather attending an official ceremony whence the Benin sports minister was paying a courtesy call on him as head of government. Although in this particular instance, the PM went to where the foreign minister was as if he was summoned by the Benin minister.
According Majoro, he went to the hotel at the request of Tampane who asked the premier to hand a gift to the Benin minister as a sign of welcome and an act of courtesy. It was while having exchanged the pleasantries that Majoro is reported to have been asked to appear before the Benin team players for a brief meet and greet at their request. fffffffffff