Likuena drub­bing should be a wakeup call

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

OUR se­nior na­tional soc­cer team, Likuena suf­fered a hu­mil­i­at­ing 6-0 de­feat at the hands of Al­ge­ria on Sun­day in the fi­nal match of their 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions qualifying cam­paign.

To be hon­est, I did not ex­pect Likuena to beat the Desert Foxes in their own back­yard given how pro­lific the North Africans have been over the last two years.

They are cer­tainly not the top-ranked team on the con­ti­nent for noth­ing since they boast a very tal­ented squad in­clud­ing Le­ices­ter City’s Riyadh Mahrez. The winger has been in top form for Le­ices­ter City and played a prom­i­nent role as the club shocked the world in win­ning the English Premier League ti­tle dur­ing the 2015/16 sea­son.

Nev­er­the­less, a 6-0 drub­bing at a con­ti­nen­tal level is still hu­mil­i­at­ing.

We played the same team at Set­soto Sta­dium last year and it took a moment of bril­liance in the dy­ing min­utes by Mahrez to seal a 1-3 vic­tory for the visi­tors.

To cut a long story short, I think our boys were not just up to the task es­pe­cially given the team staged a mini strike be­fore de­part­ing for Al­ge­ria.

Ul­ti­mately, it would ap­pear they only went to Al­ge­ria for the sake of hon­our­ing the fix­ture to avoid be­ing banned or suspended.

The fact that Likuena had al­ready con­ceded two goals in the open­ing 20 min­utes speaks vol­umes about the state of the play­ers.

Go­ing into the match with an un­happy squad was al­ways go­ing to be a recipe for dis­as­ter.

This was not the first time a wal­lop­ing of this mag­ni­tude has hap­pened. We were in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion in 2012 and ended up be­ing hu­mil­i­ated like we were on Sun­day, los­ing 1-7 to Ghana in Ku­masi.

As far as I re­mem­ber, this is­sue of play­ers strik­ing be­fore im­por­tant games goes a long way back and is likely to con­tinue to haunt our na­tional team for many more years to come. That is be­cause our foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tors seem un­able to find so­lu­tions.

His­tory has it that ev­ery time our play­ers have gone on strike, Likuena have gen­er­ally per­formed very badly.

Sadly this state of af­fairs keeps play­ing out ev­ery qualifying cam­paign be it the World Cup or for the Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fiers.

Un­less there are changes in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the beau­ti­ful game and sports in gen­eral, I am afraid we will al­ways be the whip­ping boys of the con­ti­nent.

Ours is the only coun­try that can go to three edi­tions of the Olympic Games un­der the same lead­er­ship and main­tain the sta­tus quo even if there is al­ways noth­ing to show for it.

The same is true for Likuena. We have been par­tic­i­pat­ing in qual­i­fiers for so long, but have never come close to qualifying and the team is al­ways in sham­bles with ev­ery qual­i­fiers.

This is just too much of a hu­mil­i­a­tion and I wish our ad­min­is­tra­tors will see the need to step down and give others with fresh ideas a chance to turn things around.

Per­haps a change of per­son­nel as far as the lead­er­ship is con­cerned might work won­ders for our sports as­so­ci­a­tions.

I saw it work for Egypt a few years ago where, af­ter the Mighty Pharaohs failed to qual­ify for the Africa Cup of Na­tions, the whole com­mit­tee stepped down and made way for new ideas and con­cepts.

This could just be the right tonic for the likes of Le­sotho Na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Al­ge­ria’s Faouzi Ghoulam (left) vies with Le­sotho’s Mabuti Pot­loane dur­ing the 2017 African Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier on Sun­day in Bl­ida, 50km south­west­ern Al­giers.

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