MACAYA Masters (Team Lesotho), who represented the country at the Castle Lager Africa’s 5-aside tournament which was held in Zambia last weekend have blamed their loss on the lack of experience.
Dubbed Castle Africa 5s, the biggest African amateur footballers 5- aside tournament was organised by Anheuser-Busch (AB) InBev’s Africa division.
AB InBev is a Belgian-Brazilian transnational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and operates breweries in more than 150 countries including Lesotho through Maluti Mountain Brewery (MMB).
Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania locked horns in second edition of the annual football tournament where an all-expenses paid trip to the FIFA World Cup in Russia next month.
The tournament was launched on the six nations level in March this year and each participating country hosted a national tournament where national representatives were selected.
Macaya Masters won the Lesotho national finals in April this year.
The teams arrived at Rodisson Blu Hotel in Zambia’s Capital, Lusaka, on 24 May 2018 where they camped until 28 May. The following day the participants were taken to the Futsal & Sports Complex for training and familiarisation with the four pitches which were used for the tournament.
Since there were only six teams, the host nation had the privilege to have an extra team, Zambia Invitation while scribes from the six participating countries also formed a team (Media Invitational). The eight teams were eventually grouped into two groups of four.
Despite a promising start where they beat Media Invitational 15-1 and Zambia Invitational 5-3 and losing 6-4 to Eswatini, Team Lesotho eventually succumbed to 5-1 loss to Zimbabwe.
South Africa were crowned winners after beating Zambia 3-1 in the finals last Sunday.
Each team was mentored by a legendary soccer player being and Lehlohonolo Seema coached Lesotho while Tinashe Nengomasha coached Zimbabwe and Brian Baloyi coached South Africa. Zambia were coached by Christopher Katongo while Siza Dlamini mentored Swaziland and Ivo Mapunda coached Tanzania.
Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, who played for Spanish giants, Barcelona, is the global brand ambassador of Castle and will be hosting the winners South Africa during the World Cup in Russia.
In line with the brand’s slogan – It all comes together with a Castle – participants shared drinks during meals while they also watched the UEFA Champions’ League final played on 26 May at a local restaurant. A local club also hosted a closing party on the last night before participants departed to their respective countries.
Speaking to the Sunday Express on the side-lines of the tournament, Eto’o applauded Castle Lager Africa for the initiative but said there was room for improvement.
“Football stars like Ronaldinho (retired Brazilian football star) were discovered through 5-aside football so this is a good initiative that Castle has brought forth which will expose amateur African footballers to bigger leagues,” Eto’o said.
“I became part of the initiative because I believe in their (Castle) dream and I am hoping that soon we will be able to reach out to more countries until we can cover the entire continent.
“However, this does not mean we should sit back and let Castle run the race alone. It is up to us as a continent to ensure that we promote football. Africa has so much talent and I have also witnessed a lot here. We do not have wait for Europeans to come and spot for talent here but we should promote our own. I believed in myself hence I got to where I was, therefore we should also believe in Africa’s talent.”
Team Lesotho captain, Moliboea Pita, said they learned a lot from the tournament but said they could have done better with more experience.
He said they tried to get access to the one 5-aside pitch in the country before the tournament but the efforts were in vain.
“It was our first time on such a ground yet all the other participants had experience. Our country needs more of such facilities.
“We learnt a lot especially that 5-aside is faster that the normal game and requires constant communication and team effort. It was also great to meet and mingle with legends that we normally see on television. Getting to know them personally and ask for advice on certain football issues was a priceless experience,” Pita told the Sunday Express.
Castle Lager Africa brand director, Vaughan Croeser, said: “Samuel’s (Eto’o) humbleness and dedication to this initiative is special and coincides perfectly with our dream”.
“Together we will achieve our goal of making the Castle Africa 5s the biggest 5-aside tournament in Africa.”
MMB’s representative, Tumisang Mosito, who had accompanied the team said Lesotho needs to intensify preparations ahead of next year’s tournament.
He said they were surprised to note that they competed with teams that have played as far as Brazil instead of armatures as advertised and said they would strategise for the next edition.
He said he would also push for the establishment of regular 5-aside tournaments in the country.