Lesotho enter Eight Nations event

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

All reports by Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Lesotho plans to use the inaugural Sasol Eight Nations in Johannesburg later this month to start building a formidable team for the 2010 World Cup.

The tournament, hosted by the South African Football Association, will be played from June 25 to July 5. The venues will be announced next week.

Mafole Sematlane, the newly appointed chief executive of the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa), said they were looking forward to the tournament.

"We have been invited to an eight- nations tournament. It could not have come at a more appropriate time as we begin our preparations for the 2010 World Cup," he said.

"It goes without saying that the bulk of the current Under-23 national side will form an integral part of the 2010 Lesotho senior team.

"It is important for Lesotho to take part in the World Cup in 2010. We are under pressure because it will take place just a few hundred kilometres from our country.

"We are also eyeing a place in the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana, the same for the 2010 edition in Angola. Our Under-23 coach [Lesley Nosi] is aware of our vision. We are going to channel everything into the Olympic soccer team.

"The Lefa executive has agreed that we also need to strengthen Likoena [Lesotho senior national soccer team], but can't do it in isolation.

"That it why it is important for the Under-23s to play as many matches as possible to expose the youngsters to international football.

"We are also focusing on the Under-17 and Under-20 national teams to ensure that we succeed in revolutionising football in Lesotho," said the articulate Sematlane.

A national coaching instructor, Sematlane said they also needed the Under-12s and Under-15s to be financed by the Financial Assistance Programme of Fifa.

"As for the Under-17s, we need to get funding for them so that they can also play competitive soccer regularly. That will help in the development of soccer in Lesotho."

Sematlane, who is also a business consultant, said they hoped that one of the 2010 World Cup legacies for them would be the establishment of a professional soccer league in the Mountain Kingdom.

Lesotho boast great players such as Lekoane Lekoane, Ambros Mosala, Ronnie Malefetsane, Mphungoa Lebajoa and Lehlohonolo Seema, to mention a few.

"It is long overdue that we should have a professional league in Lesotho. We have an array of top players doing well in South Africa," said Sematlane.