THE newly appointed Likuena coach, Veselin Jelušić, is hopeful that his experience can help the team to succeed.
Jelušić was unveiled as the head coach of Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) men’s teams at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on Tuesday.
He replaced Thabo Senong, who resigned last June.
The Serbian has signed a two-year contract with an option for renewal. He will be assisted by the incumbent interim coach, Leslie Notši, and Under-20 coach, Bafokeng Mohapi.
However, Notši will later leave the team and the coach will be expected to select his own local assistant coach.
Jelušić, who previously coached the national teams of Angola and Botswana, holds a master’s degree and PhD in Physical Education from the University of Belgrade and UEFA Pro License. He is also the former coach of Bloemfontein Celtic in South Africa. He has also coached Zambian outfit, City of Lusaka in 2020.
Therefore, he believes he is the right man to help Lesotho achieve its goals.
“It is my great honour and pleasure to have been chosen to be the coach,” Jelušić said.
“I would like to promise that I will do my best to contribute to the achievement of LeFA’s goals. I hope with my coaching qualifications and coaching experience will help the national team to achieve good results.”
The coach’s first test is the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) preliminaries against Seychelles next month.
Interim coach, Notši had already assembled a team in preparation for the matches.
Therefore, Jelušić, said he was ready to partner with Notši and build on what has already been done. He will, therefore, not be quick to make big changes to the team.
Jelušić said he was aware of Lesotho’s situation given the lack of a professional league.
“I know football in Lesotho is semi-professional and now, we do not have many players playing in professional leagues. So, we must rely on the available players.
“I met the technical director and we have exchanged opinions on how we can go forward. It is a very short time before the AFCON preliminaries, and it is not time for big changes. We will use the players that are already selected.”
Jelušić pleaded for support from local coaches and the entire football fraternity.
“I expect contribution from all local coaches as working together can make us achieve more. If all football association members, coaches, players and media come together, we can succeed.”
Jelušić conceded that two years might not be enough to work on a big project like developing competitive groups of players. However, he is expecting to have made a significant impact in two years.
“To work on developing players for future use, we need time. In Botswana, I worked there for eight years, and the national team improved by more than 40 places in FIFA rankings at that time. After that, I went to work as their national development teams coach and the players I developed contributed when Botswana qualified for AFCON for the first time in 2012.
“The same thing happened in Angola, I worked as senior national team for four years while also overseeing the under-17, 20 and 23 teams. During those years, we developed team that won AFCON under-20 in Ethiopia in 2001. The same players in 2006 qualified for World Cup in Germany.
“What I want to say is that investment in development is key as it will pay-off later. But at least in these first two years, there must be signs of improvement and we will see what follows,” Jelušić said.
Lesotho has never qualified for any major tournament and LeFA has already made it clear that the coach’s mandate is to qualify AFCON and lead the team to COSAFA finals.