Lesotho Football Association’s (LeFA) head of refereeing Mohau Sentšo has praised a historic year for the country’s top referees after Souru Phatšoane entered the history books by becoming Lesotho’s first match official to officiate at a World Cup tournament.

Before heading to Brazil for the Under-17 World Cup, Phatšoane officiated at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt earlier this year, to become first male referee from the Mountain Kingdom to officiate at the prestigious continental showpiece.

The Tšenola born assistant referee followed in the footsteps of Puleng Mahomo, who officiated in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament held in Namibia in 2014.  The female referees also created their own history in August, with no-nonsense referee Mathabo Kolokotoane, officiating the COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship final held in Mauritius as Uganda beat South Africa 2-1 to be crowned Champions.

“It was a very good year in many ways for our department. It began with Phatšoane officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt and also the Under-17 World Cup in Brazil,” Sentšo told the LeFA website

“It was for the first time that we have had a referee officiating at such two big tournaments. We also managed to have courses and trainings for our referees and I believe it played a big part in them being prepared for big assignments in the region and continent.”

Several of the country’s top referees and assistant referees such as Lebalang Mokete, Retšelisitsoe Molise, Osias Koto and Lesupi Puputla also had a busy schedule officiating in the CAF Champions League, CAF Confederations Cup as well as the recent 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that got underway in November.

“It was a good exposure for our referees and their assistants. We never had as many appointments previously as we had this year and it shows that our department is on the right track,” the retired referee said.

“It was also a good year for several of our retired referees, who serve the continent as match commissioners and assessors as they were also given responsibilities to oversee big matches in the recent Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the CAF Champions League and the Confederations Cup.

“There is always a room for improvement, but we are all happy that our referees were given the responsibility to officiate in some of the big matches in the continent at both club and national team level,” he said.

Sentšo also revealed that for the first time this year their instructor-Rethusitsoe Lebaka, was appointed to be in a panel of instructors for a referee’s course held prior to the start of the COSAFA Men’s Under-17 Championships held in Malawi in September.