THE men’s senior national soccer team, Likuena, is starting its preparations for the COSAFA cup today, the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has said.
The regional tournament is usually played from May to July annually but was this year postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
COSAFA has now proposed that this year’s tournament will be played from 2 to 14 October 2020 in Durban.
LeFA secretary general Mokhosi Mohapi yesterday confirmed to have received the COSAFA invitation and said the 25-man squad will immediately start preparing for the tournament.
“The team will start preparing tomorrow for the tournament which is proposed to run from 2 to 14 October,” Mohapi said.
Mohapi said they have spoken to Ministry Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation through the director of sports Puisano Tšosane and they were given a go ahead to commence preparations.
“We have tried several times to meet with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) before Friday but to no avail,” Mohapi said
“We have met with the director of sports and she gave us a go ahead to start preparing the national team because we are already behind time.”
Mohapi said it was important for the team prepare for COSAFA and use it as part of its preparations for the AFCON qualifiers which are scheduled for November this year.
“We have not played any competitive soccer lately and we need the COSAFA tournament to help our team prepare after a long time with no competitive football.
“In our meeting with NACOSEC on Friday, we informed them that the senior national team will start its preparations this Sunday (today).”
Mohapi said to ensure the safety of players, they will run random screening on players.
“We can’t test them because the government doesn’t have testing kits. We will only test people when they have shown signs. In the meantime, we will only be running random tests on the players.
“It is still dangerous though but we must make it clear to all the players in the squad have responsibility to protect themselves and teammates because should one of them test positive for Covid-19, that might cost the whole team,” Mohapi said.
LeFA is racing against time in negotiating with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) to allow football activities to return in time for the senior men’s national team to prepare for the AFCON qualifiers.
The government stopped all sporting activities in March this year following the Covid-19 outbreak. The pandemic forced LeFA to end the soccer season in its current state in July.
The pandemic has also disrupted continental soccer calendars with the fourth round of the AFCON qualifiers the 2021 tournament being moved from March to November this year.
CAF announced last month that the third and fourth round games would be played between 9 and 17 November and between 22 and 30 March 2021.
The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations was supposed to have been hosted by Cameroon but was moved to January 2022 January.
Likuena is third in group L with a point after one draw with Sierra Leone and a 2-4 loss to Nigeria.
Thabo Senong’s charges are left with back to back matches against Benin before playing both Sierra Leone and Nigeria in return fixtures.
LeFA finally met with NACOSEC to make its presentation.
“The LeFA delegation led by secretary general Mohapi today (Friday) met the NACOSEC and presented its plans for the return of football activities.
“The NACOSEC appreciated our presentation and will now present it to a ministerial subcommittee which will in turn invite us for a discussion with the NACOSEC Technical Committee. We hope to be given a greenlight to resume soccer activities afterwards,” a statement from LeFA said.