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Why Likuena are failing so dismally


Likuena bafanaMoorosi Tsiane

Likuena were held to a goalless draw by Botswana in last Sunday’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) first leg qualifier played at Setsoto Stadium.

What’s surprising about that? A sad result yes, but not a surprise at all!

The national soccer team, or Likuena for many, have been producing this mediocrity for so long with sporadic decent performances that made some of us keep hoping that things would be better. But instead of this expected improvement, the team has failed to make any progress and is now going backwards with the match against Botswana’s Zebras a good example of the regression.

I said it in my column last week that the only competition we have done fairly better has been the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) in 2000 and 2013, in which we reached the final and semifinals, respectively.

As much as I always hope that Likuena should do well because I am patriotic before I’m rational, I know it’s not going to happen. I almost don’t want it to happen until we change the way we manage the game in this country. If we win now, it’s clearly a fluke.

Like I said, we have to change the way we look at the game and one of very first things we have to work on is learning how to groom new players from a very young age. I don’t mean just kicking the ball around the way almost all youngsters do, but proper youth development be it at clubs or academies.

This approach will take us a long time to reap the required results but the 15 years or so that we would have to wait for the youngsters to grow up will be worth it instead of us always getting hurt by the poor performance our players display at international level.

Of course when the team is not doing well, the coach will be the first to shoulder the blame because of some decisions he takes regarding tactics and positioning the players. However, this time around, I think the blame game must just end and the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) must find a long-term solution to our problem.

National team coach Seephephe Matete has said it numerous times that our players are not getting the right training at their respective clubs hence the poor showing at national team level.

I agree with Matete on this one although I still think he also fails to get the best out of the players because he plays them out of position.

I have watched two or three of our local teams playing their South African counterparts in friendly matches and I could tell that a lot still needed to be done for us to compete internationally.

Our players’ attitude during matches is something that needs to be worked on, and the less said about the simple basics of the game, the better.

Expecting to have outstanding players yet we do not have clear development structures is like waiting for the airplane at the train station. It has been two years since LeFA emphasised that each of our 14 premier league teams must have a development side and honestly, none of them has complied, unless we want to lie to ourselves and call the 23-year-olds playing in the so-called development teams the answer to the association’s call.

The eight-year-olds I would want to see at the first stage of the development cycle must be groomed properly and professionally until they get into the junior national teams (under-12, 15, 17 and 20) and then the under-23s while at the same time, start to be introduced into the senior team.

I think the other way to develop players is through schools but this needs strong input from the government in partnership with LeFA because for this initiative to be a success, a lot is required in terms of infrastructure.

I think this will be the easiest way to develop players because to have academies in this country is something I don’t see happening anytime soon, if ever.

Surely, we all aware that a fool is someone who does the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Unfortunately we are behaving like fools. We are using the same methods of player-selection over and over again hoping for a win but without investing in getting that elusive win.

I can’t have all the solutions here but I know that Likuena won’t go far unless we begin to take proper development seriously.

Every success takes major investment, and it’s time we invested in our football.

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