Likuena must re­deem lost pride at Cosafa tour­na­ment

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

ALL eyes will be on Likuena in­terim coach Moses Maliehe at the re­gional Cosafa tour­na­ment which gets un­der­way in Namibia this week­end.

The na­tional football team are go­ing through a tough patch af­ter los­ing their last four matches — the lat­est com­ing on Sun­day in a Na­tions Cup qual­i­fier against Ethiopia at Set­soto sta­dium.

To make mat­ters worse, Le­sotho are in a very tough group which also com­prises Mau­ri­tius, An­gola and Malawi.

And Maliehe needs to make sure Likuena at least go past the group stage to si­lence crit­ics who have been sav­aging him and his team for poor re­sults.

Likuena have only won one of the six matches Maliehe has been in charge of the team which has not gone down well with the fans be­cause the team has lost to min­nows and not the su­per­pow­ers of con­ti­nen­tal football.

In Sun­day’s 1-2 loss to Ethiopia, many things were wrong for Likuena es­pe­cially the for­ma­tion of the team which made the team in­ef­fec­tive.

The play­ers’ poor in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance did not help mat­ters and hope­fully, Maliehe would have fixed th­ese is­sues be­fore the Cosafa tour­na­ment gets un­der­way on 11 June in Wind­hoek, if we are to avoid a hu­mil­i­a­tion.

Maliehe has been brave enough to keep faith in the play­ers he se­lected de­spite calls to add a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence into the team and he must now prove his coach­ing cre­den­tials by do­ing well in Namibia.

He must now lead by ex­am­ple and help the play­ers get their groove back be­cause backto-back de­feats might have hurt their con­fi­dence.

Af­ter watch­ing the team strug­gle in re­cent matches, I be­lieve Likuena need a few ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers such as Nkau Lerotholi, Thapelo Mokhehle and Tšoanelo Koe­tle.

In ad­di­tion to their ex­pe­ri­ence, the trio had a fan­tas­tic sea­son at club level.

While one can­not ques­tion the selec­tion of Ba­sia Makepe and Kopano Tseka, who have been the best cen­tre-back pair­ing in the league dur­ing the 2015/16 cam­paign, it also clear they lack ex­pe­ri­ence when it comes to in­ter­na­tional football as they have con­ceded in each of the matches they have played.

It would be un­der­stand­able if the losses were against top teams, but th­ese de­feats were against min­nows Sey­chelles, Swazi­land and Botswana.

Most of the play­ers in the Likuena squad need time to get it right, but I think Lerotholi can play that cru­cial role that was played by Moitheri Ntobo for such a long time in terms of pro­vid­ing lead­er­ship and mar­shalling the de­fence.

The good thing is that Lerotholi has con­tin-

ued to play well at club level and still has a few good years left in his legs.

As for Koe­tle, we all know he is a dif­fi­cult char­ac­ter, but no player in the cur­rent Likuena squad can match the Li­oli hold­ing mid­fielder.

Koe­tle is not in the team af­ter walk­ing out of camp in protest over al­lowances the play­ers had been of­fered which he con­sid­ered pal­try.

His be­low-par per­for­mance in the jus­tended sea­son and row over al­lowances might have some­thing to do with the dis­ap­point­ment of fail­ing to se­cure a club out­side Le­sotho.

I be­lieve Koe­tle has out­grown our league and should have been as­sisted to re­alise his dream of play­ing in big­ger leagues and make the best out of his God-given tal­ent.

The mid­fielder proved his qual­ity dur­ing last year’s Cosafa com­pe­ti­tion in South Africa when he was voted man-of-the-match in back-to-back.

One would have be­lieved he had done enough to se­cure a move to the South African league, for in­stance, but the tal­ented play­maker still finds him­self at Li­oli which should be be­hind his dip in form and frus­tra­tion.

Nonethe­less, I hope Likuena will bounce back in style and win the Cosafa tour­na­ment for the first time, restor­ing the coun­try’s pride at the same time.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.