CAPS rivals in a fix

HARARE - CAPS United’s opponents in the African Champions League preliminary round Lioli FC are reeling following the ‘‘suspension’’ of three key players by the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA).

Makepekepe travel to Maseru to face the Lesotho champions next Sunday at the Setsoto Stadium for the first leg with the second leg scheduled for the National Sports Stadium in Harare a week later.

However, Lioli are currently embroiled in a bitter wrangle with LeFA after their players Kopano Tseka, Tsepo Lekhooana and Tsepo Seturumane declined to honour a call up to the Likuena (Crocodiles) squad for a training camp in December.

LeFA intended to use the training camp to prepare Likuena for their upcoming 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and 2018 African Nations Championships (Chan) qualifiers.

Tseka, Lekhooana and Seturumane together with four other players refused to attend the training camp and in an apparent retaliation for the snub, LeFA is refusing to finance their participation in continental inter-club competitions.

All Lesotho clubs taking part in Confederation of African Football (Caf) club competitions receive funding from LeFA which goes towards paying for their expenses incurred in hosting visiting foreign teams.

LeFA will also fund a six-day training camp for Lioli ahead of the first leg against Makepekepe and they will also pay all the allowances when the Lesotho champions travel to Harare for the second leg.

With this LeFA directive, it means Lioli, who are also known as Tse Nala, will be deprived of their three key players for the two matches against Makepekepe.

“The national executive committee has regrettably and with a heavy heart had to accept the decisions by...Seturumane,...Lekhooana and...Tseka all of terms of which they decided not to take part in and play for the national teams and the country under the auspices of LeFA by reason of the fact that they do not accept the terms and conditions set by the association for participating in the national team,” the association said in a statement recently.

“In the light of the foregoing, the association will not spend any funds or incur any expenses on the three Lioli players who have decided to shun the association, national team and the country.

“Their team is, however, at liberty to use them in the competitions locally and internationally in which it will be participating in as the players are not suspended.”

Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana this week told the Lesotho Times that the decision by the football association was unfair.

“First we were threatened that we will not be registered for the competition but when they realised that there is no rule backing their decision they decide to exclude some of our players from funding,” Thotanyana said.

“It is not the first time that a player has asked to be excused from national team duty and we want to know which rule we violated as a club.

“We feel there is no consistency, fairness and transparency in the decision taken by LeFA in this matter.”

Meanwhile, Tse Nala defender Tseka feels he is being targeted by the football association when in fact he had followed the proper channels to turn down the call up to the training camp.

“I never turned down the national team call up in December but all I did was to write to the association requesting a break from national team activities due to work commitments,” Tseka told the Lesotho Times.

“I made the association aware through that letter that I have challenges at work which made it difficult for me to be with the team.”

This predicament could be good news for Makepekepe, who have been preparing for this encounter for over a month.

United commenced pre-season training at the start of last month and played their first competitive friendly match when they defeated Mozambique champions Ferroviaro de Beria 2-0 at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago.

Last week, Makepekepe took their preparations to Zambia where they played two matches against Red Arrows and Zanaco.

Lloyd Chitembwe’s side lost the first match 2-0 to red Arrows before ending their tour with a 2-1 victory over the Zambian champions Zanaco. 

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