SOUTH African Thabo Senong has started his duties as the head coach of the senior national soccer team.
Senong takes over from Moses Maliehe, who will however, continue leading the team in the ongoing CHAN qualifiers.
Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) president Salemane Phafane unveiled Senong as the new coach at Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena.
Present at the unveiling of the new coach were Home Affairs minister Mokoto Hloaele, Sports minister Mahali Phamotse and her deputy Mabataung Khalane.
Phafane also said LeFA technical director Leslie Notši would continue coaching the team which is preparing to take on Ethiopia in the preliminary qualifiers of the 2023 World Cup next Wednesday in Ghana with the return fixture set for four days later at Setsoto Stadium.
Phafane said this was done so that Notši would help Senong in the early stages.
“We are going to face tough competition this time around and we believe we will make it through,” Phafane said.
“We are facing powerhouses of African football so we also need the best of preparations so that we can overcome the challenge.
“No one is giving us a chance and we are fighting to make it through.”
He said he was happy to have secured the services of a South African coach, who is familiar with footballers from the region unlike coaches from Europe. He said they made a deliberate decision to get an African coach.
“It was a deliberate decision because coaches from Europe have told us that our players are short and we kept asking what we could do. That didn’t sit well with us. The other challenge is that Europeans took too long to adjust to our culture, so we decided to recruit from the region.”
Phafane said they also had to bring someone capable of delivering.
“There was a need for us to prepare technically and bring people with expertise.
“Please welcome Thabo Senong as we unveil him today and admit that LeFA has made a great choice. We know there will always be different opinions but please welcome this decision.
“We can all agree that our federation has grown through the support of different stakeholders including the government especially with the current minister.
“LeFA is a well-oiled machine and we need to ensure it doesn’t run out of oil. We have realised that we have to go beyond the borders if need be. We do so not to replace the talent and the expertise that we have but to reinforce and that should be understood.
“We have coaches already and a technical director and we have brought Senong here to reinforce,” Phafane said.
Phafane also unveiled the senior national team’s new kit and said he hoped that it would motivate the team to keep playing well.
“It took us time to decide which brand to partner with and we finally signed a three-year contract with Umbro.
“Replicas have also started selling today. We have an agreement with Umbro and our target is to sell at least 2500 jerseys in the first six months. We have three sets, a home kit, a home kit and an alternative set. We also have tracksuits, training shoes and warm up kits,” Phafane said.
On her part, Phamotse welcomed Senong and said the government would support LeFA in all possible ways.
“I am very happy and I know you need support from the government and it is my responsibility that you get that because its success will benefit this country. I promise that the government will give you that support.
“I wish the new coach and the team the best of luck in their upcoming fixtures.
“We welcome the coach and we will support him in all possible ways.
“His success will also be determined by the support he gets from us,” Phamotse said.