Seema dreams big in SA premiership
LESOTHO’S Lehlohonolo Seema was last week appointed Bloemfontein Celtic interim coach after the Mangaung outfit parted ways with coach Serame Letsoaka following a string of poor results in the Absa premiership.
The Sunday Express (SE) sports reporter Moorosi Tsiane speaks to the former Orlando Pirates skipper (Seema) prior to his first match against Cape Town City and below are excerpts from the interview.
SE: Congratulations on your appointment coach.
Seema: Thank you my brother, it always feels good when Basotho support me and I know that is how it has always been with us as a nation. They have been praying hard with me that one day opportunities like these come my way.
SE: Did this came too soon or was it long overdue?
Seema: I have been with the team for a long time and worked as an assistant to three top coaches Clinton Larsen, Ernst Middendorp and Serame Letsoaka. I was also head coach of our Multi Choice team that did very well last season in the reserve sides’ league.
So I think management want to see if their student has been learning but unfortunately I had to step in because there was a crisis. The decision hasn’t been made as to whether I will take over as head coach the entire season because I was only told to prepare the team for this evening’s match (Wednesday). We will see what happens after that.
SE: The team lost on Wednesday so what is the way forward?
Seema: We had a good game on Wednesday but unfortunately we lost but this is work in progress so I will be with the team until a new coach is hired.
SE: But do you think you are ready for such big responsibilities?
Seema: I am still a student and I am not going to rush into anything but if the management feel they want to make me the head coach then I will take the job and perform my duties as expected.
I think I have the experience and hopefully I will do well and give them something to smile about. We are a big team with loyal supporters who deserve to be happy so this comes with many challenges.
I am familiar with the team’s culture as I have been around a long time. I appreciate the chance to prove myself and I hope this will bear fruit.
I will be calling the shots and making decisions so the pressure will all be on me.
But if I am not given the job I will continue to work as an assistant and learn under the new mentor.
SE: But what are your expectations?
Seema: This is a big responsibility and I am just looking forward to learn and see how I can improve as a coach.
It is certainly a great platform on top of the coaching courses that I have been attending. I was also recommended to this position by Ntate Letsoaka when he left the team.
SE: Lesotho football has been in the doldrums for a long time with our players failing to make it outside our borders. That is certainly a different case to that of the golden generation that included yourself, Motlatsi Shale, Teele Ntsonyana, Lebajoa Mphongoa, Thabane Sutu, Lekoane Lekoane, Popo Matsoara among others.
You and Sutu even went on to coach in foreign leagues; what do you think is the problem with current crop of players?
Seema: I played at a time when we had so many good and intelligent players. I played with young and older players some of whom I did not have even half of their football brains.
But one thing that helped me was discipline and that is one aspect our players lack in Lesotho.
It is not that we cannot have another Seema, Shale or Mphongoa but the hard work and commitment from our players is just not there and without that, I don’t see them making it anywhere outside the country because here things are done in a very professional manner.
SE: Why don’t you recommend one or two players to your connections that side and see how that will turn out?
Seema: It is not as easy as people think because I am not able to watch all the boys playing.
We network and always talk as coaches but even if I wanted to the issue of discipline really troubles us.
I once brought one player here for the coach to asses while I was working with Coach Ernst (Middendorp). I sat down with that player and asked him to train with our development side and guess what, he didn’t but chose to return home saying we brought him here to train with development team.
So that is the mentality of our players and it becomes very tough for them out here. The first question people ask when you recommend a player is about his discipline record on and off the field and he can’t go anywhere if he lacks in that department.
SE: You have played and worked in professional leagues. What is your advice to local players?
Seema: It really takes lot of work but fortunately for us talent is already there so we just need to teach or train our players how to behave.
We also need to push for our football to become professional and only then will our players begin to take it seriously and appreciate the need to show full commitment.
Hopefully the youth coaches’ courses in the country will help us going forward because it is also our job as coaches to teach players what is expected of them.
Discipline has been our stumbling block but there is still hope though and our premier league coaches have been attending different courses.
That will also help us in the long run as they will start seeing things differently.