MASERU — The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has withdrawn the national Under-20 team from the upcoming Caf Youth Championship qualifiers due to lack of funds.
Under-20 team manager Thabo Pule told the Sunday Express on Friday that the cash-strapped association decided to pull Makoanyane XI out after it failed to raise the M800 000 required for the qualifiers.
The youth tournament will be held in Algeria next year.
Makoanyane XI, as the Lesotho team is affectionately known, were scheduled to take on Zambia in the second round of the qualifiers in July.
The return leg was set for mid-August in Lusaka.
“It is a very sad situation because this team has been the feeder side for our senior team, but unfortunately it is a situation we have to accept,” Pule said.
He said their hope now lies with the newly-appointed Sports Minister Thesele ’Maseribane.
“We are hopeful that something will happen soon. It may come from the newly-appointed sports minister because this team is very vital to the structures of football development in the country,” Pule said.
Meanwhile, former Likuena and Makoanyane XI captain Motlatsi Maseela blasted the football governing body for poor planning.
The retired defender told the Sunday Express that Lefa failed the youth team and the nation in their poor planning.
“It is a big blow and our football governing body should shoulder the blame,” he said.
“This tournament is not new in the calendar of events for both Caf and Lefa. They should have looked for sponsorship in time,” Maseela, a former defender with Arsenal, said.
The former Likuena skipper said the standard of football in the country will continue to decline unless the association changes the way it does things.
Maseela continued: “Our senior team is already struggling due to lack of continuation within our youth structures, the players lack the experience and exposure which comes with playing in such tournaments.”
“A big number of the current players in the senior team made their names here; this is where it all began for them in terms of getting the exposure and this shows how badly we need to participate in such youth competitions,” the retired defender said.
Makoanyane XI qualified for both the 2005 and 2011 editions of the Caf Under-20 African Youth Championship tournaments held in Benin and South Africa respectively.