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Will Lefa have the guts to fire Matete?


Likuena interim  coach, Seephephe MateteMoorosi Tsiane

Our beloved Likuena made an early exit from the 2015 Cosafa tournament following their 2-0 defeat to Swaziland on Wednesday in Rustenburg, South Africa.

The national soccer team had opened their campaign with a 2-1 loss to Madagascar two days before, and needed to win against the Swazis to remain in the hunt for their maiden Cosafa trophy win.

However, Likuena could not hold their own against fellow minnows Swaziland, with the loss making Friday’s final Group B match against Tanzania, WHICH Lesotho won 1-0, academic because only the group winner was supposed to progress to the next stage of the continental championship.

Although I feel bad about this, I must still confess that I expected this early exit to happen after our team’s lackluster performance against Madagascar, whose result put our boys under pressure since they now had to win against a motivated Swaziland side which had just thrashed Tanzania 2-0 in their first match of the competition.

You might remember that in last week’s column, I said Likuena stood a great chance of at least reaching the quarterfinals of this year’s regional tourney because of the relatively easy opponents they had been pooled against.

That’s why it is really painful to see our team losing to fellow minnows Madagascar and Swaziland, yet Likuena had experienced players who beat Kenya and Liberia last year in their abortive attempt to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

With veterans such as Bushy Moletsane, Nkau Lerotholi, Bokang Mothoane, Thapelo Tale, Thabo Masualle, Jeremia Kamele, Mabuti Potloane, Tšoanelo Koetle, Lekhanya Lekhanya and Kholuoe Phasumane, there is no excuse for coach Seephephe Matete not to have gone beyond the group stage of the tournament.

I had believed Tanzania to be the toughest in the group, but the East Africans have been so disappointing as they have lost to Swaziland and Madagascar by identical 2-0 score-lines.

Matete and his assistant, Halemakale Mahlaha, really failed the nation by not calling-up players who were so outstanding in our domestic league, such as Lioli goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhehle, who only conceded four times the entire season as the TY outfit went on to clinch the league title. The coaches also left behind Litšepe Marabe, who top-scored in the 2014/15 premier league season with 22 goals for his club, Bantu.

As much as I don’t condone indiscipline among players, I still believe our coaches should have found a better way to deal with Marabe and Sepiriti Malefane, who were axed from national duty because of failure to abide by the rules imposed by Likuena’s technical department.

As a coach, there are things that you cannot change about players—you simply have to know how to manage the situation in order to achieve the desired result, which is producing results for the nation.

That is where Mahlaha and Matete failed because instead of guiding the players, they were so happy to prove that they were the bosses, and forgetting what Marabe can do for this country. If they are honest with themselves, the two will admit it was a mistake to employ such tough disciplinary tactics against the players because Lesotho are coming back empty handed once again because the coaches left our best players behind.

Another major factor which contributed to our team’s disappointing performance could have been that many of the players were played out of position and could therefore, not perform to their full potential in Rustenburg.

Koetle was a rock in the middle of the park for Lioli but Matete preferred to use him as a right-back—a position I believe suits Thabiso Mohapi much better.

Mohapi was mostly used as a right-back by Bantu and was outstanding in that position hence I believe he should have been deployed in the same role by Matete, while  Koetle was in midfield.

Jeremia Kamele was also played in leftback despite spending the entire season in midfielder for Lioli, from where he even managed to score six goals for the Teyateyaneng-based outfit.

All this now begs the question: why play Kamele in defence yet we have a natural stopper like Thapelo Mokhehle who did the job so expertly for Bantu throughout the just-ended premiership season?

I’m aware Matete’s mandate was to at least reach the semifinals of the Cosafa tournament but as the whole world now knows, this did not happen.

The question now is do Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) officials have the guts to fire this man and his assistant, who are clearly out of their depth as far as coaching the national team is concerned?

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