Second bite of cherry for top referees

Second bite of cherry for top referees

MASERU – Four top Lesotho referees have been given a second chance to undergo their annual year-beginning fitness tests after failing their initial assessments last weekend. The retake will take place on January 21 at Setsoto Stadium.
The lifeline comes after the four premier league referees – two of whom are accredited by the football world governing body, FIFA – failed their compulsory tests last Saturday at the same venue.

At the start of every year match officials are required to undergo the gruelling Cooper Fitness Test to prove they are fit to officiate top-flight matches.
The referees in question are international FIFA match officials Lebalang Mokete and ‘Mathabo Kolokotoana as well as top premier league referees Matheola Makhobalo and Makhetha Phatšoane. Thankfully for the quartet the Referees Committee has arranged to spare their blushes by organising another fitness test for Econet Premier League officials before the start of the season’s second round on January 27. There is one catch, however.

This time around the referees will have to pay from their own pockets to undergo the Lesotho Football Association hosted test.
Nevertheless, that should be the least of the referees concerns. According to Referees Committee representative, Maponyane Letsie, normally when referees fail their tests they are demoted to the first division. Mokete, Kolokotoana, Makhobalo and Phatšoane have been given a reprieve and will get another chance.

“Most of our referees passed their test; only about four of them did not do well – two FIFA and two premier league referees,” Letsie told thepost.
“Normally referees who did not do well during their tests are sent to the A-Division; however, they are going to get a second chance on January 21. But because we covered all the costs for the (first) test, this time around they will carry the costs themselves, they will for pay everything,” he continued.
Letsie also addressed the failure of referees to pitch for Sunday’s round of catch-up Econet Premier League games which forced the league to once again postpone the ties.

The first round games the league had hoped to play on Sunday were Lesotho Defence Force’s tie against Matlama and Majantja’s clash against Kick4Life. The fiasco has been this week’s burning topic but Letsie absolved the referees of any blame.
He said the Referees Committee submitted its calendar to the league at the start of the year which included its fitness testing work-plan.
Letsie said it came as a surprise when the league scheduled games on the same weekend referees were taking their fitness tests.

“We did not prepare for our referees to officiate this past weekend, we gave the premier league our three-year calendar, we even gave it to the Lesotho Football Association secretary general (Mokhosi Mohapi). We were surprised when we realised the premier league scheduled games the same weekend we were having the fitness test,” he said.

Letsie added: “The league said they wanted any referees that could make themselves available to officiate the two matches but none volunteered as they were still recovering from the gruelling test.”

Luciah Phahla

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