Ntobo’s re­turn ex­poses poor de­vel­op­ment struc­tures

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

NA­TIONAL team coach Seep­hephe Matete has been left with no choice but to per­suade vet­eran de­fender Moitheri Ntobo to come out of re­tire­ment once again.

Matete was con­cerned by the team’s de­fence, hence his de­ci­sion to re­call the 35-year-old who had called time on his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer last year. Ntobo had first re­tired from the na­tional team, likuena, in 2013, and was asked to re­turn af­ter the coaches could not get an ideal re­place­ment for the le­sotho Cor­rec­tional ser­vice (lcs) de­fender.

the fact that likuena have been con­ced­ing goals ei­ther to­wards the end of the first half or very late in the match would have wor­ried any coach.

in last month’s Africa Cup of Na­tions (af­con) qual­i­fier against Al­ge­ria, likuena con­ceded two goals in the last five min­utes of the match in their 1-3 loss to the Desert Foxes, and i be­lieve that’s the rea­son Matete had to seek out Ntobo yet again.

that late col­lapse was re­ally dis­ap­point­ing and some­thing had to be done to fix the prob­lem. How­ever, re­call­ing Ntobo can­not be the long-term so­lu­tion con­sid­er­ing the player’s age.

One thing this quick-fix has ex­posed is our poor de­vel­op­ment struc­ture be­cause surely by now, the coach should have found a re­place­ment for Ntobo.

since the de­fen­sive stal­wart an­nounced his sec­ond re­tire­ment from the team, likuena have played in the re­gional Cosafa tour­na­ment and one african Na­tions Cham­pi­onship (Chan) qual­i­fier.

these are com­pe­ti­tions most na­tions use to un­leash young tal­ent and help the young­sters get used to in­ter­na­tional football.

But this has not been the case with le­sotho as Matete opted to use sea­soned play­ers in­stead of giv­ing young­sters the in­ter­na­tional ex­po­sure they needed.

i un­der­stand the coach has no op­tion but to beg Ntobo for his ser­vices since re­sults have not been forth­com­ing. But my prob­lem is there will come a time Ntobo won’t be avail­able any­more be­cause at 35, he is ob­vi­ously near­ing the end of his ca­reer.

it is a con­cern when we don’t have young­sters to re­place the likes of Ntobo and Li­oli midfielder Bushy Mo­let­sane, who is also in the twi­light of his ca­reer.

When lefa in­tro­duced a likuena ‘B’ team last year, the ex­pec­ta­tion was this ar­range­ment was for groom­ing young play­ers and bridg­ing the gap be­tween the tried-and-tested and those that are still get­ting used to in­ter­na­tional football.

But it seems the plan is not work­ing be­cause Matete has over­looked young play­ers once again for some­one who be­gan his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer way back in 2000.

My ques­tion now is: why are we strug­gling to pro­duce good de­fend- ers the same way we came up with Ntobo and Lehlo­honolo Seema?

is our coun­try in a cri­sis as far as football is con­cerned?

Don’t get me wrong; i have no prob­lem with Ntobo re­turn­ing to the na­tional team. Not only do i ad­mire this man for his lead­er­ship skills on the pitch, he is also a great gen­tle­man off it.

i be­lieve our football is still strug­gling be­cause un­like other coun­tries, Matete has been us­ing the same team for dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tions.

like i said, i ex­pected a dif­fer­ent side for the Chan and Cosafa tour­na­ments the way the other coun­tries did by us­ing their de­vel­op­ment sides for the com­pe­ti­tions.

By the way, le­sotho had one of the old­est squads at this year’s re­gional Cosafa tour­na­ment held in May in south Africa, which tells it all — that we are lag­ging be­hind other coun­tries when it comes to youth de­vel­op­ment.

this is re­ally wor­ry­ing and shows lefa of­fi­cials have not been do­ing their home­work prop­erly. this shows there is se­ri­ous need for the as­so­ci­a­tion to re­work its strate­gies to en­sure we move with the times and are abreast the other na­tions.

We re­ally can­not con­tinue along this vein be­cause it’s a shame we have never qual­i­fied for the Af­con tour­na­ment.

Mean­while, this week’s sack­ing of Bantu coach, Katiso Mo­jakhomo, less than three months af­ter his ap­point­ment was too juicy for me to ig­nore.

This is be­cause i once said it in this very col­umn the A Matšo Mate­bele man­age­ment had blun­dered by fir­ing Mot­latsi shale, who won them their first and only premier league ti­tle in 2013/14.

shale won the ti­tle in his first sea­son in charge and took the team to sec­ond place on the premier­ship ta­ble the fol­low­ing term.for the sake of com­pe­ti­tion, i hope Bantu are go­ing to get the right man this time around.

i al­ways had this feel­ing Mo­jakhomo was never go­ing to suc­ceed at Bantu be­cause of his coach­ing style and way of do­ing things which can only work at gov­ern­ment clubs like LCS, le­sotho Mounted Po­lice ser­vice and le­sotho De­fence Force where the chain of com­mand is clear.

With that said, i wish to say Happy in­de­pen­dence to Ba­sotho.

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