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Senong, a year on

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LIKUENA coach Thabo Senong has now clocked a year since joining the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) in August 2019 on the back of a successful spell with the South African National under-20 team.

The 39-year-old headed to the Mountain Kingdom after leading Amajita to back-to-back FIFA-20 World Cups in South Korea and Poland in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

Senong, who is among the youngest national team coaches on the continent, admitted that the first six months into his new job were extremely difficult as games were coming in thick and fast for Likuena.

“I’m extremely grateful and humbled to have been with LeFA for 12 months now, it’s a good milestone for me and I hope it can last longer,” Senong said.

“But as you know that in football, a coach is as good as his or her last result. The first six months were extremely tough to adapt and function as I never had a chance to study the Lesotho Premier League. It was not easy for the players to accept me in the dressing room because I’m a foreign coach and I was bringing in different ideas but football is universal and it’s not played in a vacuum.

“We had to find common tactical agreements on the field and common behavioural agreements in the dressing room to help us become a better team. It worked out well because I’m not a dictator and I value the opinions of players, the staff and everyone around me.”

The Pimville born coach, who also worked as assistant coach to Shakes Mashaba and Stuart Baxter at Bafana Bafana, said that the congestion of international matches soon after his appointment made life difficult for him as he had to play back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Ethiopia.

“We had many international fixtures between September and November. We played seven matches, drew five and lost two matches. The second six months has been a productive period as I interacted with many coaches, physical trainers, medicals experts and players.

“It was important for me to be in Lesotho during the football break as a foreign coach working there. It helped me to get a good understanding of the dynamics, the language, the culture and sociology of the country.

“I have learnt a lot about the players, the culture and football in general. I’m really grateful to the players, my employers, LeFA staff, the technical director (Leslie Notši), the Likuena technical team, the premier league, the media and club coaches who have ensured that I’m comfortable in my job as a foreign coach,” Senong said. — lefaorg

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