Storm over dinner for Benin squad

Storm over dinner for Benin squad

MASERU-The Ministry of Sports continues to deny vehemently that its officials wined and dined the Benin national team at Lesotho Avani after receiving fierce backlash from the public when a video of the alleged event was aired on television on Tuesday night.

Interviewed yesterday morning several witnesses confirmed that the Benin team, as seen on television, were part of the welcome event but could not confirm whether indeed they had dinner with the Prime Minister, Dr Moeketsi Majoro, and Minister of Sports, Likeleli Tampane.

It is at this dinner where the Prime Minister presented Benin’s Minister of Sports with a blanket as a welcome gift ahead of a 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Lesotho on Tuesday at Setsoto Stadium.
The ministry of sports, however, insisted the dinner was not for the Benin national team but for its counterpart from Benin and it said the Prime

Minister cannot have dinner with just anyone.
Narrating what happened, the sports ministry’s public relations officer, Maqalika Matsepe, said the Benin team were having their own dinner in one room while officials were in another room.

Matsepe continued to try make sense of the images that appeared on television by saying that after being presented with a blanket, Benin’s sports minister went to the room where the players were dining to show off his gifts and then the players asked to meet Dr. Majoro, and that is why the prime minister can be seen with the Benin players in videos. Matsepe said the ministry did not anticipate how the incident would be viewed by the public or that it would be taken in the wrong way.

“The Benin team was there and they had dinner but I cannot say whether they were with the Prime minister and the minister, we had to leave, of course, didn’t see anything else,” said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity as they are not allowed to discuss the Lesotho Avani’s clients with the media.

Others also corroborated what the source said. They however could not deny or confirm the claims that the players asked to see the Prime minister.
Like the rest of the public, Likuena were made to watch the event on television just a few hours after playing a goalless draw with Benin in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

The minister of sports has on several occasions announced that Likuena had a free ride in Benin’s chartered plane and the ministry continues to insist that Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) paid nothing.
Matsepe says Benin’s minister has no reason to lie to the Government of Lesotho, and said the ministry has received advice to demand proof of payment from LEFA.

“I am not saying this is going to happen but the minister has been advised to take control and demand proof of payment from LEFA, because what she has been saying is what she was told by the Benin minister that they showed mercy to Likuena and decided they could not leave them behind,” he said.

LEFA says it has incurred part of the costs which includes paying M56 000 for the visas for the team. LEFA will also settle the bill for the PCR Tests for Covid-19 that the Benin team took while the association said it also incurred costs to transport Benin’s delegation from OR Tambo International Airport to Lesotho amongst other things.

LEFA says talks and arrangements for the two teams to travel together were done by the association’s president, Advocate Salemane Phafane, and his counterparts at Benin’s football federation.

If Likuena had used a commercial flight as was scheduled they would have likely arrived in the country on match-day, hence arrangements were made to enable the team to arrive before.

Sports Reporter

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