Lioli, Lefa strike deal

Lioli, Lefa strike deal

Maseru – Lioli and the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) have reached a last minute compromise that will allow the champions to camp at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena for Saturday’s CAF Champions League tie against Zimbabwe’s CAPS United.

The resolution was reached late yesterday and brought about the end of what was becoming an ugly spat between the two sides.
The row centred on three players, namely Tšepo Lekhooana, Tšepo Seturumane and Kopano Tseka. The trio was excluded from LEFA’s funding two weeks ago after the association said it would not cater for them because they had retired from the national team and LEFA would be using the same allowances package to cover Lioli’s expenses for their two-legged meeting with CAPS.

Lioli host CAPS at Setsoto Stadium on Saturday in the first leg of the preliminary stage tie but the players’ saga had overshadowed excitement with the champions put in a position where they would be forced to stump up money for accommodation, meals and transport for Lekhooana, Seturumane and Tseka. Despite widespread uproar and several meetings, Lioli management and LEFA had failed to reach common ground by Monday forcing Lesotho’s champions into last minute contingencies this week to keep their squad together.

‘Tse Nala’ had hoped to begin camp on Sunday but their plans were thrown into disarray because LEFA had offered to house everyone but Lekhooana, Seturumane and Tseka. As a result of the stand-off, Lioli’s 27-man squad only convened for camp on Tuesday at an unnamed location which the club were to pay for themselves.  However, the issue was resolved late yesterday allowing Lekhooana, Seturumane and Tseka to join their teammates for camp at Bambatha starting last night.  Thanks to the last minute compromise Lioli will not have to cater for the trio of players from their own pockets when the team travels to Zimbabwe in two weeks’ time. LEFA will cover costs for all Lioli players.

Lioli vs. CAPS United
CAF Champions League preliminary round tie
First leg: Saturday 11 February, Setsoto Stadium
Second leg: Sunday 19 February, National Stadium, Harare
Even though they started camp later than expected, Lioli vice-president Mthoalo Mthoalo said the disruption will not affect the players’ focus ahead of Saturday’s crucial continental date.
“We have already started preparing for this game (against CAPS United) and, believe me, we are going into this game prepared,” Mthoalo insisted. “We have talked to our players and we have prepared them mentally.”

Lekhooana, Seturumane and Tseka were involved in a team-wide disagreement with LEFA over allowances while with Likuena last year and later turned down call-ups from new national coach Moses Maliehe in December.  Tseka later said he had not retired but had only asked to be excused from the team because of work commitments.

Lioli’s record in the Champions League:
2014
08/02/2014: Primeiro de Agosto 2-0 Lioli
16/02/2014: Lioli 2-1 Primeiro de Agosto
2016
14/02/2016: Lioli 1-2 Vital’O
28/02/2016: Vital’O 0-1 Lioli

Mthoalo said Lioli were happy with other logistics LEFA has prepared for the club, such as accommodation for officials, ticketing and stadium booking.
Tickets for Saturday’s clash against CAPS are already on sale at Computicket outlets for M30 while the game is scheduled to start at 4pm as Lioli seek to become the first Lesotho side in 16 years to win a two-legged Champions League tie. “We have a big game this weekend,” Mthoalo said “We are going there to fight until the end to win and progress to the next round.”

CAPS United’s CAF Champions League record:
1997: Second Round
2005: Second Round
2006: disqualified in Second Round

Luciah Phahla

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