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Likuena urged to learn from Zambians

Pascalinah Kabi

MASERU — Likuena have been urged to learn from Zambia’s recent success at the Africa Cup of Nations if they are to make it to the next stage of the World Cup qualifiers.
Likuena crashed out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers after losing to little known Sao Tome but they still have a chance to redeem themselves in the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers that begin in June.
Lesotho is scheduled to face Ghana, Sudan and Zambia in the battle for a place at the World Cup that will be held in Brazil.
Analysts this week said if Likuena are to make it to Brazil they must start preparations now.
Former Likuena playmaker, Teele Ntšonyane, said if there is anything Lesotho can learn from Zambia’s recent success it is that any national team can do well if they are well prepared.
“Development is a key factor to success. The team we have now has great potential to win us games only if there is consistency,” Ntšonyane said.
“Zambian players have been together for four years now and their coach said between 2010 and 2012, the morale within the team was fantastic and that’s exactly what we need.”
“Zambians had consistency before the Afcon because they knew very well that champions are made out of consistency, experience and youthfulness in the team.”
“Their team has about five experienced players who have been blended with the youth. It is a dynamic team just like Lesotho’s of 2000,” he said.
The veteran player said working on Likuena’s weaknesses now would help in the qualifiers.
Former Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) public relations officer, Tsiu Monne shared the same sentiments with Ntšonyane.
“We must learn from Zambia how champions are prepared. They start preparing as early as after the qualifying (Afcon) games,” Monne said.
“They prepared for this competition two years ago together with the president of the Zambia Football Association (Kalusha Bwalya) pushing forward their preparations,” he said.
Monne said he learnt from Zambia’s achievement that preparation is the key to success.
“What I’ve learned is that achievements are planned, prepared for and built on a clear structure and Zambians did just that.
“This is what we need to do as Lesotho, start preparing now for the World Cup qualifiers and not wait until a month before the kick-off.”
Monne said Likuena must remember that they don’t have the comfort of having a competitive local league.
“We must start preparing now because even our league is not competitive enough to save us,” he said.
He added that Lesotho has talent and could win cups if only the players are given enough time to prepare.
“If we don’t start our preparations now, then I don’t see why Lesotho should not pull out of the World Cup qualifiers because it will be a waste of money.”
Likuena mentor Leslie Notsi said the team should have started its preparations for the World Cup qualifiers by now.
“We should have started preparing for the games now; however the situation is not yet bad because the team is there and we will start preparations once the plan is blessed by the Lefa national executive council,” Notsi said on Friday.
He said that they would use Likuena’s failure to proceed to the group stages of 2013 Afcon qualifiers as a learning curve.
“The fact that Lesotho did not qualify for the Afcon must be a lesson to us as we move forward and aim for the qualifiers,” Notsi said, adding that he has learnt that “that success comes from a combined effort”.
“There are a couple of things I have learned from Zambia’s Afcon achievement. We must start believing in ourselves as players, coaches, team, association and the nation if we want to achieve anything.
Notsi said Likuena’s game needs to improve technically in all areas.
The premier league and clubs must start helping players to reach their potential, he said.
“Our main problem in Lesotho is scoring and we need to come up with a concrete plan to help our players convert opportunities into goals,” he said.
Ex-Likuena captain Tšepo Hlojeng said Lesotho needed a clear plan just like Zambia in order to qualify for the World Cup.
“The most important thing is that Zambia showed that they knew what they wanted from the onset,” Hlojeng said.
“There was clear communication from the president to the players of what was expected of each other. We need to have a clear plan of execution from our leadership.”

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