The Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) has sacrificed national team interim coach, Seephephe Matete, for Likuena’s recent failures.
Matete has since been replaced by Moses Maliehe, as LeFA seeks to revive the national team’s waning fortunes.
Likuena only won three of the 26 matches Matete was in charge since he assumed the reins in February last year.
LeFA had outlined the coach’s mandate, which included taking Likuena to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament, beating the Comoros in the preliminary round of the 2018 Fifa World Cup and making it to next year’s African Nations Championship.
However, Matete could manage neither of these targets, presenting LeFA with a golden opportunity to escape the wrath of the fans by making him the sacrificial lamb for Likuena’s struggles.
Granted, Likuena’s performance during Matete’s tenure was unacceptable, but like I said before, LeFA must also take responsibility for the team’s dismal record.
I still maintain a coach cannot achieve anything if he does not have the full support of the football mother-body in terms of resources and proper development structures, and Matete certainly didn’t have neither of the two.
The key to Likuena’s success will always be sound grassroots structures capable of producing complete footballers who can compete on the biggest stage, and hopefully, our football authorities have learnt this very simple lesson.
As for Maliehe, his journey begins with the remaining qualifiers of the 2017 Afcon tournament in which Likuena have already lost to Ethiopia and Algeria.
Maliehe is a big fan of young players so hopefully, he is going to make the necessary changes to the team and not only prepare for the 2017 Afcon but also the future.
Of course, this is going to be a new challenge for Maliehe as he has never coached at this level before. However, the good thing is he has been coaching the national under-20 team and recently, Likuena’s reserve side.
Yet for me, it’s not only about Likuena, but also club football which we must be concerned about as a nation.
We all know clubs like Bantu and Lioli have improved a lot in terms of professionalising the way they operate, but at the same time, it is a fact that our football is still lagging behind compared to other southern African countries.
One of the major reasons for our lack of progress is poor sponsorship because without funding, there is no way clubs can implement their development structures. And without these grassroots plans in place, we won’t be able to inject new blood into the national team, which I believe was one of the reasons Matete failed to fulfill his mandate as demanded by LeFA.
Again without funds, we cannot improve our soccer fields without which our teams will continue to struggle because this is a basic necessity for the game to reach the required level of professionalism.
But for the corporate sector to come to the party, it needs proper engagement and LeFA should engage countries which have been highly successful in luring business into football and learn how they managed to accomplish the feat.
I hope for the sake of the beautiful game, we will see change that will take our football to another level because there is nothing as disappointing as seeing your team being the laughing stock of the continent.