Our beloved national soccer team Likuena once again disappointed the country on Sunday with a goalless draw against Botswana in the opening match of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) preliminary Southern Zone qualifiers.
Likuena had just suffered a 2-1 away loss to Ethiopia the previous weekend and many saw the match against Botswana as the team’s chance to get back to winning ways following a run of poor results over recent months.
The Seephephe Matete-coached side were very poor during last month’s COSAFA competition held in South Africa, losing 2-1 versus Madagascar and 2-0 against Swaziland to exit the regional tournament in the first round.
The fact of the matter is it has been very tough for Matete since taking over the reins early last year and the coach has also publicly admitted that he is feeling the heat which comes with the job.
The changing and chopping of players is clear testimony that this is a man under pressure and who appears unsure of his next move to arrest the rot.
By the way, problems were there for everyone to see even before Likuena departed for the COSAFA tournament in Rustenburg where our top scorer, Litšepe Marabe, was dropped from the squad. To me, the punishment was unwarranted and the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) should have mediated in the dispute between the player and technical department over whatever differences they were having.
But it was obvious from that moment that no one cared from the association and the team left for the regional competition with a very thin striking force.
As expected, we paid a heavy price in Rustenburg as Thapelo Tale, who was our trump card, had not had the best of seasons with Likhopo.
That, by itself, told a story of a team lacking direction and ambition because our other striker, Nkoto Masoabi, did not have the needed international experience for us to shine at the regional championship.
Talking about Sunday’s performance against Botswana, I think it was one of the worst I have seen from our national team in a long time.
This is why I say LeFA officials have failed the country because they are well aware that Matete and his charges have been under so much pressure that for me, the best option at that stage would have been to use the ‘B’ team against Botswana.
My reason for this suggestion is that the senior team had not just returned from an important match in Ethiopia but also been struggling with their game for a while now.
The other reason is the reserve side had proved its pedigree against South Africa, albeit a second-rate one, before the COSAFA event, with the match ending goalless.
I know LeFA management do not take too kindly to criticism from journalists, but Likuena’s slide to the doldrums is something that cannot be ignored because if we do, then the team would reach a point of no return.
What is the use of having a national executive when it cannot take action when our football is suffering so much?
What else should happen for this management to realise that our football is in a crisis because the statistics are there to prove that all is not well in the Likuena camp?
I said it before that even the body language of the players says it all—that this is a house in trouble and the family is lost as to the next course of action.
It is clear the coaches need help and only LeFA management can fix the problem because Likuena’s mediocrity is something many of our fans have openly said they cannot take anymore, particularly when the association has increased ticket-prices for matches.