THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has cast its net wider in search of a new senior national team coach and is allegedly chasing former South African under-20 coach Thabo Senong.
There has been uncertainty over the future of the incumbent, Moses Maliehe, since May this year after he was given leave of absence due to illness while the team was preparing for the COSAFA tournament. The team was led by Maliehe’s assistants James Madidilane and Mpitsa Marai to Durban for the tournament.
The team was also led by LeFA technical director Leslie Notši on interim basis for back to back CHAN qualifiers against Bafana Bafana. The tie was won on a 6-2 aggregate.
Prior to the COSAFA trip, LeFA had seemed determined to ring changes to the Likuena technical team, giving the coaches a tough task of playing in the COSAFA final and qualifying for CHAN. While the team failed to play in the final, it indeed registered two history-breaking wins against South Africa.
However, it seems LeFA has not been mollified by the feat and the Sunday Express has been reliably informed that the football mother body is chasing Senong.
“They (LeFA) have shown interest in him (Senong) and from what I know, he also seems not to have a problem to come and work here,” a source said.
“LeFA representatives met with him prior to the second Bafana Bafana-Likuena match in Soweto.”
Senong’s contract with Amajita, as the South African under-20 team is affectionately known, ended in June and has not been renewed after two early eliminations from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup (in 2015 and in May this year).
Senong‚ who served as Amajita coach for five years from 2014‚ has been involved in unearthing several players who have gone on to become household names at ABSA premiership sides.
These include SuperSport United midfielder Teboho Mokoena‚ Chippa United defender Tercious Malepe just to name a few.
He achieved third-place finishes at the 2017 and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations under-20 to qualify for an unprecedented two successive World Cups but in both instances exited in the group stages without winning a game.
However, despite the rumours, LeFA secretary general Mokhosi Mohapi refuted them and said he was unaware of any contact.
“We have never talked to Senong and I don’t know who is spreading the rumours. I would have known if the association had contacted him because I am the secretary general.
“I only know that at one point, Senong helped Ntate Maliehe with profiling Cape Verde prior to the 2019 AFCON qualifiers nothing more,” Mohapi said.
Mohapi added that even if LeFA was chasing after Senong’s signature, it would not be easy with the South African Football Association allegedly lurking in the background seeking him to assist newly appointed interim coach Molefi Ntseki.
He however, admitted that they are indeed searching a new coach.
“We need a new coach as soon as possible because the world cup qualifiers are just around the corner (next month against Ethiopia). We are looking both locally and abroad,” he said.
On Maliehe’s future, Mohapi said they are likely to engage in talks with him.
“We can’t just terminate his contract. Secondly, we gave him an unlimited leave of absence, so the only way is to engage in talks with him before we replace him. We have withdrawn Notši from coaching the team so that he can focus on his job as the technical director,” Mohapi said.
Meanwhile, LeFA on Friday reinstated Notši to lead Likuena in the upcoming 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier against Ethiopia away on 2 September and at home on the 10th of September 2019.
“The LeFA national executive committee has tasked Mr Leslie Notši to continue to oversee the senior national team, Likuena in light of the upcoming 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier against Ethiopia.
“This is while the association searches for the ideal candidate locally and internationally to take over the reins on a full-time basis. In his short spell as the caretaker coach, Mr Notši has brought stability into the national team setup and has helped the team get historic back-to-back victories over Bafana Bafana,” LeFA said in a statement on Friday.