Un­der fire Taole hits back at crit­ics

Sunday Express - - SPORT - Moorosi Tsiane

MAT­LAMA coach Nte­bele “Tata” Taole has hit back at mount­ing crit­i­cism of his team se­lec­tions fol­low­ing the Sea Point side’s fail­ure to clinch sil­ver­ware for the sec­ond time in the space of five months.

Tse Put­soa lost 11-10 to Li­oli on penal­ties dur­ing the In­de­pen­dence Cup fi­nal last Oc­to­ber and last Sun­day went down 3-2 to Bantu in the fi­nal of the LNIG Top 8.

Mat­lama’s loss to their Mafeteng-based bit­ter ri­vals in­censed the club’s sup­port­ers who have since been bay­ing for the vet­eran gaffer’s blood.

The be­mused fans laid the blame for the LNIG Top 8 fi­nal de­feat on Taole’s shoul­ders, who they said got his tac­tics wrong by de­ploy­ing at­tack­ing mid­fielder, Mabuti Pot­loane, in a false num­ber nine po­si­tion while their main striker, Mpho Matsinyane, could only make the bench.

The club’s for­wards, Matsinyane and Mohau Khali, have strug­gled for form dur­ing the course of the sea­son with Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow ac­qui­si­tion, Pot­loane, slot­ted in their stead to en­sure more po­tency in the strik­ing depart­ment.

In an in­ter­view with the Sun­day Ex­press, a de­fi­ant Taole said he con­sid­ered form and a player’s abil­ity to im­pact the game in se­lect­ing his start­ing line-up.

The em­bat­tled coach said he had to ac­com­mo­date both Pot­loane, who plays as a play­maker and in-form play­maker, Phafa Tšosane, who is also Tse Put­soa’s top goal scorer this sea­son hav­ing put nine be­hind the op­po­si­tion nets.

“There is noth­ing new about all the crit­i­cism I am now get­ting,” Taole said.

“If the club man­age­ment also feels that I am no longer good enough to coach this team, then I can just leave. How­ever, what I can tell you is that the very same play- ers that peo­ple are com­plain­ing about not be­ing in­cluded in the start­ing line-up were also la­beled fail­ures when they were go­ing through a rough patch of form.

“In re­cent matches, I de­cided to use Mabuti as a false num­ber nine be­cause of his skills in at­tack­ing po­si­tions and I felt he was a bet­ter op­tion than Matsinyane, but still, the sup­port­ers are not happy and I don’t know what it is they re­ally want.”

The vet­eran men­tor, who led Mat­lama to two league ti­tles in the 1990/91 and 2009/10 sea­sons, said he is still in the process of re­build­ing a team that can chal­lenge for honours next sea­son.

“I have won cups with Mat­lama be­fore and I know that ev­ery time the team is do­ing well, I get fired only to be re­called when the team is un­der­per­form­ing,” Taole said.

“I just need time to get the team ready to be in con­tention for sil­ver­ware next sea­son.

“Sup­port­ers will al­ways com­plain, but I know that there are peo­ple call­ing them­selves Mat­lama leg­ends or masters who are cre­at­ing all th­ese con­spir­a­cies be­cause they want the cur­rent man­age­ment to be fired.”

In his view, the team is still do­ing well with the only glitch be­ing the loss of the LNIG ti­tle to Bantu.

“It’s sad that I am be­ing made the scape­goat for the Bantu de­feat yet lunch was not pro­vided to the play­ers be­fore play­ing their semi-fi­nal match,” he said.

Should Mat­lama man­age­ment de­cide to fire him, Taole said, he would not re­turn again to the club where he started off as a goal­keeper be­fore be­ing groomed to be­come a coach.

“This is my fourth term as Mat­lama coach and I am sacked when the club wins a league ti­tle or tro­phy only for them to come knock­ing again for my ser­vices when the team is not per­form­ing well.

“How­ever, if they fire me again, I will never come back to this club be­cause the way they op­er­ate is dis­re­spect­ful to me,” Taole said mat­ter-of-factly.

“There are some peo­ple work­ing hard to get me fired be­cause some of them see me as a threat to their ac­cess­ing the club’s fi­nances. Last week­end the team played with­out hav­ing lunch af­ter the trea­surer of the club re­fused to give us money, yet they ex­pect the team to per­form well. Th­ese peo­ple are not be­ing fair to me.”

On why he prefers to use ei­ther Teboho ‘Mota or Rele­bo­hile Mabone as mid­field an­chors in­stead of Ke­fuoe “Rasta” Mahula, Taole said: “Rasta is a very good player but I have a prob­lem with his height.

“That is why I al­ways pre­fer to use him more as an at­tack­ing mid­fielder than as an an­chor.”

THE 2-0 drub­bing Likuena en­dured at the hands of the Un­der 23 Ze­bras of Botswana on Wed­nes­day is dis­con­cert­ing to say the least. This is more wor­ri­some con­sid­er­ing that our boys were sent to the clean­ers in Gaborone by a team of young­sters who are still be­ing con­sid­ered for their coun­try’s na­tional team.

The game was also meant to pre­pare the Ze­bras for the COSAFA games billed for South Africa in May and the All Africa Games to be held this Septem­ber in Congo Braz­zav­ille, as well as the Olympic qual­i­fiers.

The ques­tion that im­me­di­ately came to mind when I saw our team line-up was how men­tor, Seep­hephe ‘Mo­chini’ Matete, can achieve his ob­jec­tive of build­ing a long-term team when his start­ing 11 mainly con­sisted of se­nior play­ers. The only new face to start the game was Poloko Mohale, who part­nered Nkau Lerotholi in the cen­tre back po­si­tion.

Can we still con­tinue to say Likuena is in the build­ing phase if the av­er­age age of play­ers in the na­tional team is 28?

Lerotholi, Mabuti Pot­loane, Thapelo Tale, Kholuoe Pha­sumane and Bokang Mothoana are now in their late twen­ties and have been reg­u­lars in the na­tional team in the pre­ced­ing years.

This is not to take any­thing away from the afore­men­tioned play­ers, who still have a few good years ahead of them. How­ever, I was of the opin­ion that the coach would use the four Un­der 20 play­ers that re­cently grad­u­ated into the se­nior team.

In­stead, there was only one young­ster in the start­ing line-up on Wed­nes­day night.

Granted, the boys don’t yet have the ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing at a se­nior and in­ter­na­tional level, as some peo­ple have ar­gued. But how will they gain the ex­pe­ri­ence if they can­not even play in friendlies?

In his de­fence, Matete can only ef­fect short-term plans since he is an in­terim coach. If our na­tional side has any hope of de­vel­op­ing be­yond be­ing mere whip­ping boys in the re­gion and be­yond, the Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion needs to ap­point a sub­stan­tive coach with a clear man­date and de­liv­er­ables.

Th­ese lack­lus­tre per­for­mances need to be­come a thing of the past.

Mean­while, the Le­sotho Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (LBA) gave us all some­thing to cheer about with their glit­ter­ing awards cer­e­mony held last Fri­day at a lo­cal ho­tel.

It was re­fresh­ing to see those who ex­celled get­ting their due recog­ni­tion es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that it had been a while since the LBA had hosted an event of that na­ture.

I have al­ways said that, of all the sports as­so­ci­a­tions in the coun­try, the LBA stands out in the man­ner they man­age their af­fairs.

Their com­mit­ment and striv­ing to see the growth of their beloved sport is ev­i­dent for all to see, un­like some who sit back and al­ways com­plain about lack of fund­ing.

Even with the limited re­sources they re­ceived from the Le­sotho Sports and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion, the LBA has gone on to make mean­ing­ful de­vel­op­ments to bas­ket­ball in the coun­try.

Although the event started two hours later than was sched­uled, it was well worth the wait.

To my knowl­edge, only the foot­ball stars had been hon­oured by the Pre­mier League Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee and the league spon­sors, Vo­da­com.

It was thus a sight for sore eyes for a sup­pos­edly small as­so­ci­a­tion like LBA to punch above its weight and de­liver such an event. It gave me hope again that other as­so­ci­a­tions will fol­low suit by hon­our­ing their he­roes in the not too dis­tant fu­ture.

The LBA con­tinue to set the bar high for other as­so­ci­a­tions, and hope­fully next year’s awards cer­e­mony will be more or­gan­ised and suc­cess­ful than the re­cent one es­pe­cially in terms of time man­age­ment.

Mat­LaMa coach nte­bele taole.

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