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Phatšoane to handle AFCON final

. . . becomes first Mosotho to officiate at the highest continental level
. . . as his list of prestigious international assignments continues to grow

Leemisa Thuseho

THERE is no stopping for top assistant referee, Souru Phatšoane, who will tonight make history by becoming the first Mosotho to officiate in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) between Senegal and Egypt.
Just to put things into context, this is a match pitying Liverpool and global soccer legends, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, albeit this time around they will be turning out for their respective nations, Senegal and Egypt respectively.
The final will be played at the Paul Biya Stadium, in Olembe, in Cameroon.
Phatšoane was named in the team of officials on Friday by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
Before today’s game, the highest profile game he had officiated in was the last 16 of the same tournament in 2019. That year, the continent’s premium soccer contest was held in Egypt and Phatšoane’s last game was between Ghana vs Tunisia.
The 33-year-old has so far officiated in four other matches pitying Morocco vs Ghana, Senegal vs Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast vs Algeria in the group stages. He also officiated in the quarterfinal clash between Senegal and Equatorial Guinea. This means today’s game will be his third time officiating a match featuring the Lions of Teranga, Senegal, at this year’s edition of the tournament.
It also means that he has now surpassed the four matches which he officiated in 2019 to notch up five this time around.
Prior to this year’s AFCON tournament, Phatšoane had just recorded another milestone in his career being appointed to represent the COSAFA region at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. He is also the only Mosotho to have reached that level.
But even then, he had already inked his name in the history books of Lesotho football by becoming Lesotho’s first male referee to officiate in the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil in 2019.
For tonight, Phatšoane will be the second assistant referee along with two South African officials, Zakhele Siwele and Victor Gomes, who are the first assistant and central referee respectively.
Jean-JaNgambo Ndala of DR Congo will be the fourth official while Jean Médard Kossa of Congo is the match commissioner.
Olivier Kabene Safari of DR Congo will be a standby assistant referee.
Egypt, led by Liverpool’s mesmerising Mohamed Salah, are looking to win their eighth AFCON title, their first since Angola 2010. But Salah’s Liverpool striking partner, Mane, who is incidentally Senegal’s captain, will be hoping to make history by bagging his country’s debut AFCON title.
Yesterday Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) president, Salemane Phafane, was oozing with joy over Phatšoane’s milestone.
“This is massive for both LeFA and the country at large,” Phafane said.
“We are very proud of what Phatšoane has achieved in recent years especially in this tournament where he has been appointed to officiate in the final tomorrow.
“Phatšoane is a very dedicated man and we are not surprised by his successes in recent years. He is a true role model to young referees not only in his country but throughout the continent. We wish him the best of luck in the final.
“The ball is now in the court of younger referees to work hard and follow in his footsteps because LeFA continues to invest heavily in the empowerment of referees throughout the country,” Phafane said.

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