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Matete pleads for patience

by Sunday Express
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Back pageMikia Kalati

Rustenburg

Likuena coach, Seephephe Matete, insists he is the right man to lead the national side despite a disappointing first round exit at the regional Cosafa tournament currently underway in Rustenburg , South Africa, and has pleaded for patience as he rebuilds the team.

The national team ended their Cosafa campaign with a 1-0 win over Tanzania on Friday after losing the two first matches to Madagascar and Swaziland, 2-1 and 2-0, respectively.
The veteran mentor told the Lesotho Times he feels the only option is for him to be given a chance to improve the team even after a poor showing at the regional competition.
“If you look at the team, we are now in a phase where some players are in the twilight of their careers and we had about eight players playing their first tournament with the senior national team and they need time to get used to this level of competition,” Matete said.

“We did not start the tournament well and in the end, we are out. I feel some of the players were a bit nervous, which is why the team struggled to gel.”
Despite his mandate from the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) to at least reach the semifinals of the regional showcase, Matete said the bigger picture was preparing his charges for the more prestigious 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers, which get underway next month.

“I know expectations were to see the team advancing from the group stages, but we must be realistic that we had challenges and the only way was to give our young boys exposure by playing in this tournament,” said Matete.

“But like I said, the aim was to lay the foundation for future tournaments as there are many  ahead of us, such as Afcon and CHAN qualifiers.

“But I think against Swaziland, we showed a lot of signs of improvement and I was very happy with the team’s performance. However, I admit we still have a long way to go before we reach the stage where we would want to be,” he said.

Matete said youngsters such as Tumelo Khutlang, Hlompho Kalake and Jane Thabantšo had shown that they were the future of the national team and deserved to be given more chances with the senior team.

“This was a new experience for some of our players; that is why we kept rotating the team,” Matete said.

“I believe our supporters will see a better and improved performance in the upcoming competitions but we need support from all the stakeholders if we are to succeed.”

Matete’s sentiments were echoed by America-based Jane Tšotleho, who said he was delighted to have played for his nation.

“Like the coach said, we need more time and competitions to improve as a team,” Tšotleho said.

Sunny, as the player is known, was substituted at half-time in the 2-1 loss to Madagascar, and only made the bench against Swaziland.

The attacking midfielder played the first 45 minutes in the last match before making way for  Tumelo Khutlang.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for me and the other players to learn. Although we did not advance from our group, we gained the much-needed experience which will serve us well in future competitions.

“We are all disappointed to have lost, but we showed a lot of improvement in the win over Tanzania.”

 

Meanwhile, Lioli midfielder, Tšoanelo Koetle (22), was singled out for praise by former Zimbabwe international and coach, Ian Gorowa.
Koetle won the man-of-the-match award in Likuena’s  2-0 loss to Swaziland on Wednesday although the tie marked the end of Lesotho’s quest for the regional silverware.

Despite winning 1-0 against Tanzania in their last group match on Friday, Lesotho were already out of a tournament as they had also lost 2-1 in their opening match against Madagascar, who went on to progress to the quarterfinal. Madagascar secured their spot in the next stage of the tournament following their 1-1 draw with Swaziland on Friday.  Although Swaziland and Madagascar ended the tournament level on seven points, the islanders progressed due to a better goal difference.

Commenting on Lesotho, who ended Group B in third place while Tanzania were last, former Zimbabwe international and coach, Ian Gorowa, said he was “a bit shocked” by Lesotho’s performance after the team did so well in the 2013 edition of the regional competition, in which they were eliminated in the semifinal stage by South Africa. However, Gorowa said Koetle had been impressive and showed the potential to become even better in future.
“I came here expecting Lesotho to be one of the teams to beat after they did so well in Zambia in 2013 and was a bit shocked with their struggles. However, I have been impressed by their number 11 (Koetle), who has shown so much potential in this match,” Gorowa said.
The Zimbabwean, who has also coached South African premier league teams Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town, said with the right guidance ,Koetle could play in much bigger leagues.
“He has impressed me a lot and is a good player. I hope he goes far in his career.”
injured against Madagascar.
Asked whether he would consider a move to the South African premier league, Koetle said he still had a long way to go before he could reach his full potential.
“That’s a tough question, but all I can say is I will continue to work hard to be a better player,” Koetle said.
The Lioli midfielder said he was disappointed Lesotho lost two successive matches and crashed out of the competition in the first round.
“Individual awards do not count if your team is not doing well so I’m very disappointed to go out of the tournament so early. We will have to improve in future if we are to be taken seriously as a football nation,” he said.

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