Lack of goals is haunting Likuena
LIKUENA’s long wait to qualify for a continental showpiece continued after they were knocked out of the CHAN qualifiers by Zimbabwe on Sunday.
The senior national team was held to a goalless draw by the Warriors and failed to overturn last month’s 3-1 defeat they suffered in Harare. Zimbabwe proceeded with a 3-1 aggregate.
Basotho have been patient with the team for a long time in the hope that one day, their fortunes would change and they would get to watch their team playing in any one of the continental showpieces. However, the wait is surely not over and this remains a pipe dream.
Likuena needed to win last weekend’s match by a two-goal margin to secure a place in the CHAN tournament in Cameroon in January 2020.
But Thabo Senong’s charges failed to get a single goal in the match. The closest they got was when they hit the frame of the goal twice. Apart from that, the match was riddled by poor decisions and poor technic against a disciplined Zimbabwe.
Goalscoring has always been Likuena’s challenge with the biggest margin being a 6-2 aggregate registered against South Africa in the previous round of the competition being the biggest margin in a long time.
After Senong’s appointment in August this year, I said he would not solve Likuena’s problems and to date, he has played five, lost one and drawn four.
In the five matches that he has been in charge, Likuena only scored three goals and conceded five.
The lack of goals starts with our domestic league where strikers struggle to get to double figures.
Unfortunately, the domestic league often is a mirror of the national team’s performance. This true of Likuena.
Our strikers’ conversion rate is so poor and the national teams suffer.
Senong has spoken about our players’ lack of confidence in attacking third and that was the case on Sunday where they made a flurry of mistakes.
Most local teams have played six league matches but the joint top-scorers namely LDF’s Thabang Rabi, Bantu’s Hlompho Kalake and Matlama’s Jane Thabantšo all have four goals.
The statistics are worrying and are evidence that our strikers struggle to score.
While our tactical play has improved immensely, the main problem remains scoring. This is also the most critical aspect of football so that one can win games.
The country must do more to change this starting from club level. We must see our strikers banging in goals and come into the senior national team with that form and confidence.
Most players in our league have never passed through any developmental stages and I am happy that the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) may have finally seen the light with the looming introduction of an under-15 league. This will be helpful in future.
While that process is underway, we need a quick fix to this problem and coaches must work hard to develop players in their respective teams. I also think LeFA must increase the size of the Likuena technical team and find Senong another assistant coach in the form of a former striker whose responsibility is solely to work with the strikers.
If that does not happen, I am afraid we may continue recording poor results starting with the upcoming AFCON qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Nigeria next month.
Senong is banking on players playing in South African leagues but that too is problematic because they are also struggling to get game time especially the forwards.