ZAVISA Milosavljevic’s odyssey at the helm of Lesotho’s national football team has come to an abrupt end after his employers served him with a notice to terminate his contract.
The move must have come as a surprise only to those who made the decision –– the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA).
LEFA had made it explicit from the onset that Milosavljevic was not expected to take Likuena to either the World Cup or African Nations Cup finals.
Which beggars the question why in the first place we needed a foreign coach to do what a local could have easily done: drape our players in national colours and send them to slaughter against other serious football teams.
That for a whopping salary believed to be around US$10 000 every month –– enough to bankroll a Premier League team for almost the entire season.
Yet we knew that coaches who don’t produce results have no business staying in charge of teams.
The Serb’s record in charge of Likuena is quite sobering.
Since his appointment in April last year, our senior national side has played 17 matches, winning just two –– against Mozambique and the Comoros.
He chalked up six draws and nine losses.
Milosavljevic’s tenure included a terrible 2010 World Cup/Nations Cup qualifying campaign during which Likuena scored only two goals and conceded 12.
The results were unacceptable even for someone with no previous coaching experience at senior team level, like Milosavljevic.
In the meantime, our football authorities remained steadfastly behind the Serb.
What has changed now, we wonder?
Are LEFA authorities worried that Milosavljevic has failed to win a couple of friendly internationals when they did not lose sleep after watching Likuena get thrashed in proper competitions?
But then, even if Milosavljevic was a magician, would he have transformed our timid Likuena into real crocodiles?
We think not.
For Lesotho’s football problems transcend coaching limitations.
Even if the person who “invented” the game of football were to coach our Likuena, we would remain punch-bags for other national teams as long as we fail to get the basics right.
We might change the main actors, but as long as the script remains the same the outcome will always remain the same.
It doesn’t matter who is in charge –– whether it’s Sir Alex Fergusson or Leslie Notsi.
Our crisis in football starts with the state of playing fields.
If a ground on which a Premier League match is played is not dusty, rocky or bumpy, it has patches of grass only kept short by grazing cows or goats.
Then come to think of the players expected to be nurtured under such conditions.
In any case, we have no proper development policy to talk about.
The best we have seen in so far as junior football is concerned are individual efforts outside official LEFA structures.
Need then we wonder why the standards of our football are poor?
Then from that very under-developed domestic scene we expect to pick a national side that can challenge the likes of Ghana or South Africa?
We need to get the basics right.
The importance of having proper facilities cannot be over-emphasised.
Setting up junior leagues and having a proper development policy are matters of urgency.
LEFA must now start walking the talk about professionalising football.
The onus is on football team owners too to turn their projects professional.
Only then can we expect to produce players good enough to compete on the international arena.
Only then can we hold a coach –– foreign or local –– fully accountable for failing the nation.
For now, knit-picking our problems is not the solution.
Let’s re-write the entire script and see if Likuena will remain the pussycats of the football world.