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Koetle still believes


Moorosi Tsiane

Football is a fickle game and Likila United midfielder Sello Koetle is living testimony to this age-old adage.

Koetle was his team’s top scorer last season with 10 goals to his name, earning himself an awesome reputation and prompting pundits to tout him as a national team prospect.

Come 2015/16 and the 25-year-old has not been so lethal, finding the back of the net only once in eight matches.

Of-course, his main job is not to score but provide the strikers with quality passes, but still, the goal-drought has not gone unnoticed by the football public.

“I have been in this game for a while now so I understand these things happen. The tide can turn anytime which is why I am not that worried with my lack of goals, ” Koetle told the Sunday Express.

“What I cannot deny is there is so much pressure on us now because of how we performed last season. People want to see how we are going to do this season but unfortunately, we are no longer a closed book so things are a bit difficult for us because the other teams now know us quite well.”

The former Qalo Primary School student joined Likila in 2013 from South African amateur side Zamdela Eagles and says his move across the border helped him come of age.

“I left for South Africa in 2006 as I had to attend Nkhopoleng School in Sasolburg. At the same time, I started playing for a team called Shere United which was owned by former Mamelodi Sundowns left-back Shere Lekhothwane. I started in the under-15 team and after making the under-19 side, I decided to join Eagles,” said Koetle, who is the first born in a family of four.

A football lover since his childhood, Koetle said he always knew he would end-up a player.

“I would be bought a soccer ball by my parents as a young boy and play it with my friends in Qalo where I was born and grew up. It was such support which helped me continue to love the sport although my parents wished I could at least play in the South African premier league where the game pays more and players can earn a living from it.”

However, when he returned to Lesotho in 2013, Koetle said he joined Qalo, who changed their name to Likila United last season.

“Qalo were in the A Division at the time and the season was halfway through when I joined them. We did not do well that season but won the A Division title the following season, leading to our promotion into the elite league.”

According to Koetle, he did not find it difficult to settle at Likila as he knew most of the players.

“We are more like a family at Likila and have that common understanding, which  is one of our major strengths. I never really struggled to fit in because I grew up with most of the players.

“We also had a good coach in Bob Mafoso, who always encouraged us to work hard. His departure this season affected us a lot because in the two or three matches we played after he left, we were struggling. We have since made peace with his absence, hence the results are now coming under Ntate Borotho.

“Our target is to finish this campaign in a much better position than the number six we managed last season. It is not going to be easy, like I said, but I think we can still do it because we are so determined to do well.”

The left-footed midfielder says playing in the premier league is a dream come true and now wants to feature for the national team Likuena.

“I always wanted to play in the premier league, and what makes it special is I was part of the group of players who helped Likila achieve that milestone.

“But I also want to play for Likuena; I know my time will come and I don’t want to dwell much on the politics that the national team is largely made up of players from Maseru. I think it is a matter of time before I achieve that dream, which is why I always work hard to realise that ambition,” said Koetle.

In addition, Koetle further revealed he also dreams of playing for some of Lesotho’s “big teams” and professionally outside the country.

“Every player wants to play for a big team in his respective league and I am no different. I know there will come a time when I will need a new challenge and I would not really mind joining either Lioli or Bantu because they are currently the biggest teams in our league.”

He continued: “I left South Africa after completing Grade 10 so I still have unfinished business in that country. It is possible I might return to finish my matric and go to tertiary and study mechanical engineering.

“So if I go back, that means I will stand a chance of playing in the South African premier league as age is on my side.”

Asked what he thought of local football, Koetle says it is not as backward as it has been made to appear by critics.

“There is talent in this country, I am telling you. I played in South Africa at junior level, and I have seen that we are not far-off in terms of skills. The only difference is the South Africans have better facilities which help them easily implement their development programmes. That is where we lack, otherwise we are as good as them as far as talent is concerned. I was there in South Africa so I know what I am talking about.”

Koetle also took the opportunity to offer advice to aspiring footballers.

“We are living in one of the world’s unfortunate countries where, without education, one really struggles. So it is wise for all of us to go to school because our sporting talent alone cannot sustain us, especially if we fail to find clubs outside Lesotho. With sound education, one can have a career and find employment so I don’t support players who decide to leave school for football.”

Fact File

Name: Sello Koetle

Nickname: Zile

Date of birth: 3 January 1990

Place of birth: Qalo, Butha-Buthe

Position: Anchor/winger

Previous teams: Linganyele, Shere United, Zamdela Eagles (South Africa).

Current team: Likila United

Team supported: Kaizer Chiefs (SA)

Favourite meal: Papa le nama

Favorite music: Gospel

Dream car: Golf VI

Role model: Kaizer Chiefs captain Siphiwe Tshabalala

Marital status: Married

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