Lioli release five  key players

Lioli release five key players

MASERU-Econet Premier League giants Lioli have released five players whose contracts expired on Tuesday.

Although the club declined to reveal the players’ names, thepost has learnt two high-profile January signings, Luciano Matsoso and Thato Sefoli, are among those that have been shown the exit door.

The players were given their clearance letters yesterday following a Sunday meeting between the players and club management.
The five players are now free to seek contracts elsewhere.

Speaking on Tuesday, Lioli president Hlajoane Lesaoana confirmed ‘Tse Nala’ have been forced to release several players.
One of the reasons is the severe financial crunch all clubs are feeling because of the COVID-19 enforced lockdown of local football and other sports.

Earlier this year, Lioli were forced to slash the wages of staff and players by half in an effort to keep the club afloat.
The latest personnel moves appear to be another cost-cutting measure by the five-time league champions.

“It has been very difficult for us,” Lesaoana said.
“We have been (badly) affected financially but we will still be able to pay a portion of players’ salaries which is why we have decided to cut all the wages by 50 per cent. We spoke with the players on Sunday. They are employees and at the moment they are not working.”

Lesaoana reassured fans that Lioli are not compromising their ability to compete for trophies. He said ‘Tse Nala’ will be on the hunt for new players to strengthen the squad for next season.

Former Lesotho international, Matsoso, joined ‘Tse Nala’ in January after he experienced a torrid spell at South African top-flight outfit Black Leopards where he did not feature since joining in 2018.

Matsoso signed a six-month contract with the Teyateyaneng giants and he proceeded to play in the majority of Lioli’s games before the league season was suspended in March.

Matsoso was one of the club’s highest earners and with the coronavirus pandemic crippling Lioli’s finances, they have decided to cut their ties and get him off the wage bill.

Defender Sefoli was also a high-profile addition when he joined from South African First Division side, Real Kings, but he was too pricey to keep.
Econet Premier League clubs have suffered without money collected from gate-takings which makes up the bulk of their budgets for daily affairs.
Lesaoana expressed fears the COVID-19 pandemic would hamper the proposed start of the 2020/21 season in October.

“Gate takings is another source of income but it’s not coming anymore and there is a worry because it looks like coronavirus is just getting started in our country which means when we return for the new season we may still have no fans, and that means no gate takings. We don’t know how long the situation will last,” Lesaoana said.

Lesaoana admitted Lioli did not perform to their expected standards this season.
Lioli are currently fifth on the Econet Premier League log table with 28 points from 19 games and are set to miss out on a top four finish after clubs last week unanimously decided to end the 2019/20 season.

The decision is yet to be ratified by the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) but clubs have already sent players away for the off-season break.
Lesaoana said Lioli are determined to “strengthen the team and build a team that will bring back success to TY, when football returns.

Tlalane Phahla

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