LIPHAKOE coach Thabo Tšutšulupa has left the Quthing outfit just a season after joining the side last September.
The club recently announced on its website that it had reached a mutual agreement to end its relations with Tšutšulupa, whose contract with Liphakoe ends later this month.
The South African native has been highly linked with the reigning league champions, Matlama and Lioli.
Tšutšulupa, who was in his debut season in Lesotho, had a fantastic season helping Liphakoe to finish in its best position since it re-gained promotion in the 2014/15 finishing eighth with 36 points.
The team said Tšutšulupa will no longer be coaching the team next season.
“As the journey to prepare for the upcoming season continues, coach Thabo Tšutšulupa and Liphakoe Football Club has agreed to a mutual cessation of their relationship after a season,” the side said on its website.
“He also gave his appreciation to the technical team he worked with, his players and the supporters for always being behind Liphakoe Football Club.
“The club wishes (the) coach all the best for the future and thanks him for his involvement with the maroon and gold.”
Tšutšulupa told the Sunday Express that he has contacted by clubs in both Lesotho and South Africa, who have shown interest although he is yet to decide which one he will join.
“It has been a difficult period for my young coaching career in this elite league and I had to decide whether or not I am staying with Liphakoe. It has taken a long time as I want to be sure of the destination. There are so many things that we needed to consider with my family first before I decided. At the end we decided leaving Liphakoe was a better decision.
“There are clubs that have shown interest in my services in Lesotho and in South Africa but my decision will depend on so many things,” Tšutšulupa said.
Talking on his achievement with Liphakoe the humble Tšutšulupa heaped praises on Liphakoe’s technical team.
“We had to align the team with the club vision of finishing in the top eight or even better as was our mandate along with Mosa Moseneke, Kabelo Tsukulu and our goalkeeper Coach Maqolo Lekhooa. I believe we achieved that even though we could have done far better.
“We brought stability to the team and worked with players’ mental strength during training and in matches and the players became highly competitive. When I came in, I got assistant coaches working towards the fitness of the team of which they did a good job. We only had to alter a few things in training to be in connection with how we wanted to play because it’s paramount to train the way you want to play.
“I believe we have achieved a lot. The players played according to our plan which was the most important task and the evidence of the efficiency is the position on which we finished the season. Our players also showed a lot of improvement among them Mohau Rammoneng, Tšepang Makapa and Basia Letuka who were all called for Likuena’s COSAFA provisional team. Our goalkeeper Tankiso Chaba has been national team’s third choice keeper. It was beyond expectation but we are proud,” Tšutšulupa said.
Tšutšulupa was appointed Liphakoe coach two weeks before the 2018/19 season started but said it never bothered him although it was never easy to settle.
“Settling was never easy but the technical team ensured that I understood the league and the mentality of the players in this country, most importantly the group of players we had. I had to understand their background and environment to be able to motivate them.
“Some may say it was already late but for me it wasn’t really a problem because I knew what I was getting myself into. We tried to play a few friendlies which gave us a good impression of what the players were capable of and that helped us a lot in planning our team and the group weekly programme including individual training,” Tšutšulupa said.
About the competition in the domestic league, Tšutšulupa said local football is on the right course.
“It’s a tough league to compete in as a coach as there are so many good coaches with a lot of experience who are also highly knowledgeable among them the LDF coach Motheo Mohapi, the LMPS coach Teele Ntšonyana, and Lioli coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana. There are also some impressive young coaches like LCS’ Mpitsa Marai and Shalane Lehohla and Kick4Life’s Bob Mafoso.
“They are able to bring the best out of their players, so this league will be even more competitive next season if look you look at the teams that managed to finish in the top eight. The competition is good and can also help the national team as the greater the competition in the league, the bigger the pool of players for the national team.”
However, Tšutšulupa said he believes there is still a lot that needs to be to done to improve local football.
“The level of competition can always be improved by the coaches and players. We need to educate and empower ourselves as coaches to help the players improve. This will bring about good competition to raise the standard even more in the coming seasons,” he said.
Asked whether or not he sees himself still coaching in Lesotho next season, Tšutšulupa said he would like to continue coaching in the country.
“I love the country as I have never felt like an outsider. I will always be happy to coach in Lesotho be it at a small or big club. However, I am also highly ambitious and want to achieve a lot, so I can never be in a comfort zone,” Tšutšulupa said.