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LeFA sets the bar high

Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: [email protected] Advertising: [email protected] Telephone: +266 2231 5356

…wants Likuena to qualify for CHAN and AFCON by 2026

Leemisa Thuseho

THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has set the bar high in its 2023-2026 strategic plan.

Its uppermost priority in the plan is to have the national team, Likuena, qualify for the African Nations Championships (CHAN) and the  Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first ever  time by 2026.    Likuena has never qualified for these continental premier football showcases whose qualification is only achieved through winning qualifying matches.  Likuena has only qualified for COSAFA tournaments because qualification is automatic for all member countries.

Unveiling the strategic plan on Friday, LeFA secretary-general Mokhosi Mohapi said on top of qualifying for CHAN and AFCON, they intended to ensure that Likuena and other national teams were always amongst the top four teams at the annual Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) tournaments. LEFA would want to see the Under -17 and national women football teams doing great as well.

He said  to improve the national teams’ competitiveness level, LEFA would need “to consider improving our preparations by playing tougher opponents and export players to other competitive leagues abroad”.

“It is high time we play tougher opponents during our teams’ preparations in order to cook good results,” Mohapi said.

“We want to see our national teams qualify for tournaments. Thus in the cycle of four years we intend to qualify for at least one tournament between AFCON and CHAN. As for COSAFA we qualify by virtue of being a member. But we want to achieve a milestone of always being in the top 4. That will make a convincing case that we can face tougher opponents in competitions.

“We should enrol our youth teams regularly in regional tournaments like COSAFA to improve their international exposure before they graduate to senior teams.”

Mohapi said another objective was to unlock opportunities for players to attract scouts who will expose them to the international environment. The association, he said, believed that having more foreign based players “will result in having a strong national team”.

In this cycle of four yeas the association also intends to strengthen its governance.

“In terms of governance we are still going through a toddlerhood stage as far an as many of our structures are concerned. Thus, we found it befitting to invest in governance. Under this goal, we are looking forward to developing efficient football administrators through courses at all levels of our structures. We are going to update our regulations, and statutes….” Mohapi said.

“We will explore available growth opportunities by setting strategic partnerships with other countries’ football associations. As per the strategic plan document the association is also going to invest more on football education by training more coaches and referees at different levels.”

Another area that the association is looking forward to working on, Mohapi said, was the grassroots and youth development.

“We intend to use grassroots football as a platform to initiate children into football and develop pathways through youth football development.”

LeFA is also planning to repackage the status of local football leagues, to make them more competitive and attract sponsors.

Mohapi said they would improve organisational functionality at management level of clubs and foster good relations within the associations’ structure. They would also strive to have competent leagues management committees.

All these efforts would, hopefully,  help in getting more sponsors and possibly improving the financial stability of individual clubs.

LeFA aimed to improve and increase its infrastructure as well.

“Our goal is to increase infrastructural capacity and modernising technical centres for football development and investment in the country. Thus, we are going to upgrade the existing ones and construct additional new technical centres in the country,” Mohapi said.

“We are also looking forward to commercialising  our facilities in order to generate revenue  to sustain the existence of the association.”

All these aims will be achieved through the financial assistance of the world soccer governing body Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), he said.

FIFA has been helping its member associations through various funding initiatives that include the FIFA Special Football Projects Funding, FIFA Solidarity Funding and  FIFA Forward Projects Funding.