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Why Lesotho Took World Cup Qualifier To Durban

The Lesotho Football Association was keen to play in Bloemfontein at Toyota Stadium, which is close to them, but they found that the venue was not registered by SAFA to CAF to play in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

They also tried to have their World Cup qualifying match to be played at Orlando Stadium or FNB Stadium, but they found both venues had been booked for unknown events, even though they were registered as by SAFA.

Dobsonville Stadium, where Lesotho played the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Zambia, losing 2-0 under Veselin Jelusic in March this year, was banned by CAF from hosting such matches as some upgrades were needed.

Lesotho found itself in this position as they are one of 17 member associations banned by CAF from playing matches in their home country, meaning they had to take a long trip down to play their home game at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, which was registered by SAFA to CAF.

It is why Bafana Bafana played in Durban, as they beat Benin at the 2010 FIFA World Cup semi-final venue because it was registered in their opening Group C match on Saturday.  

“Dobsonville was suspended by CAF because it is not up to CAF standards,” a source told iDiski Times.

“FNB Stadium and Orlando Stadium were not available due to some unknown events. By the time FIFA released dates, they were booked.

“We could have played in Bloemfontein, but it is not registered by SAFA and that’s why the game moved to Durban.”  

It appears Zimbabwe will also play their home matches in South Africa, as they too are banned by CAF from playing these World Cup qualifiers at home.

Zimbabwe, who were banned by FIFA and missed the AFCON qualifiers, played their first World Cup qualifier at Rwanda’s Huyo Stadium – the venue Amavubi will host Bafana on Tuesday, drawing against a top-ranked Nigeria on Sunday.  

Zebras coach Leslie Notsi said he has no idea when they will start to play at home in Lesotho, adding that it gives Bafana an advantage as they will hardly move.

“It gives Bafana Bafana an opportunity to travel less to play in South Africa,” argued Notsi at the press conference in Durban on Monday.

“But at the same time, Lesotho is a few hours’ drive from South Africa, and they can always drive and watch whatever they want to see. For me, it doesn’t really make a difference.

“All we need to do is to give all the teams a lot of respect because South Africa has played at the AFCON, played at the World Cup. So, we want to be competitive in our region as well.”    

Lesotho has not won a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in over 10 years, last doing so against Sudan in September 2013.

Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala
Robin-Duke Madlala is iDiski Times' former KwaZulu-Natal-based web journalist. Boasting extensive experience in the South African football landscape, Robin-Duke has previously worked for Kick-Off Magazine, Soccer Laduma, and Daily Sun and Sunday Sun. He specialises in breaking news and transfers around South Africa’s big clubs in KZN. Robin-Duke has left iDiski Times.