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Lessons from the World Cup

Teboho Molapo


MASERU — With the 2010 Fifa World Cup finally over the world will have to wait another four years until the football spectacle brings its infectious buzz to all corners of the globe again.

For Lesotho there are numerous lessons to learn from Africa’s first World Cup as the country seeks to build its football.


One aspect that was particularly evident throughout the World Cup, and that has been pointed out repeatedly, was the triumph of teamwork over individual effort.

The World Cup was a tournament where individuals fell and the importance of a team ethic was solidified.

Less fancied sides with no recognised stars such as Uruguay, South Korea and Japan all built their achievements on teamwork and solidarity. lovakia and the United States are two other teams which fall into this category.

On the other hand the big stars who were expected to shine, especially the triumvirate some media called the “big three”, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and England’s Wayne Rooney failed.

The importance of playing as a team while also playing to the strengths of the country was best shown by Uruguay and Ghana.

Their collective approach however wasn’t at the expense of playing exciting football.

Uruguay and Ghana served up what was arguably the most drama-filled match of the World Cup in their quarterfinal tie.

In the long run these performances are a lesson for Lesotho which has worryingly and steadily turned towards a rigid playing style in its national teams over the last two years.

Next Saturday Lesotho’s under-20 side — Makoanyane XI — will play their South African counterparts in the first round of the Caf Under-20 Championship qualifier.

Victory is the only objective.

But in the long term a style which suits a nation of small, speedy, technical players has to be reinforced.

To alienate small-built players, as was the case under previous Likuena coach Zavisa Milosavljevic, is not the right way to go.

The team of Liteboho Mokhesi, Bokang Mothoana, Ralekoti Mokhahlane, Tefo Maipato and Katleho Moleko, by no means giants, qualified for the Caf Under-20 Championships in 2005.

And by the way, Spain had one of the smallest starting line-ups in terms of height at the World Cup.


The bulk of the teams in the World Cup’s knockout stages were evidently a result of productive national youth development programmes.

It is no coincidence that the countries with the two most famed youth structures in Europe, Spain with Barcelona and the Netherlands with Ajax, were in the final.

Each player in the Spanish team had played at competitive youth international level for their country.

The same can be said of fellow finalists the Netherlands where Nigel De Jong, Robin Van Persie, Rafael Van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and John Heitinga are mainstays of a golden generation formed eight years ago.

Ghana meanwhile has brought through the bulk of the side which won the under-20 World Cup last year, while Germany fielded six players who won the Under-21 European Championships last year in their 4-0 win over Argentina in the quarterfinals.

The formula was similar for other countries that impressed in South Africa.

Mexico included several players that were part of their under-17 world champions in 2005, while Chile included players from their team at the under-20 World Cup in 2007.

It is in contrast to Lesotho where the golden generation from 2005, the last time Lesotho qualified for an international tournament, has been all but lost.

To their credit the Lesotho Football Association seems to be concentrating its resources more on youth development.

But there needs to be a proper plan for this, or else it will come to nothing.


The World Cup also showed the importance of long-term planning.

Germany reaped the rewards of an organised youth programme that was initiated after an ageing Germany team crashed out in the group stage of the Euro 2000 tournament held in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Even now, three months after Likuena were suspended from international football, there has been no clear five-year plan for example except that the under-17 and under-20 teams will play as much as possible in order to create a stronger Likuena when it is reinstated.

Having a long-term plan also includes having continuity in the coaching department.

Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque has been there for two years but in truth he was only taking over a programme his predecessor Luis Aragones had overseen for four years.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has been in charge since 2006 and was an assistant for two years before that.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez has also been at the helm for four years.

This situation is completely different in Lesotho where since 2000 no Likuena coach has spent two years in the job.

The national squad has been under eight different coaches in the past 10 years.

From 2000 until Likuena’s disbanding in February Monaheng Monyane, Mafa Ramakau, Seephephe Matete, Mahao Matete, Motheo Mohapi, German Anthony Hey, Serbian Zavisa Milosavljevic and Leslie Notši have coached the national team.

There has to be systematic forward planning and patience.

And any coach of the national side needs to be given time to produce results.Facilities

One feature still lacking hugely in Lesotho is good stadiums.

This is arguably the singular most important issue holding back the improvement of Lesotho football.

While the world was admiring stadiums such as the 94 000-seat Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg or Durban’s magical Moses Mabhida Stadium, Lesotho’s players have to look forward to playing at fields such as Pitso Ground when the premiership season kicks off.

The Mohale Declaration aims to have the country’s football professional by 2014.

however Lesotho’s facilities are still lagging behind.

The stadiums at the World Cup put Lesotho to shame and they should be an eye opener.

It is time to fix our football grounds.

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