Marai must keep Likuena post

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Bantu Assistant Coach and Former national team defender, Mpitsa Marai,left,
Bantu Assistant Coach and Former national team defender, Mpitsa Marai,left,

Mikia Kalati

LCS coach Mpitsa Marai was a late addition to the Likuena technical team ahead of the Cosafa tournament currently underway in Namibia, replacing Caswell Moru who failed to travel with the team due to work commitments.

The former Likuena defender hit the ground running as part of the national football team’s assistant coach as the team’s good results in Namibia suggest he struck a good relationship with head-coach Moses Maliehe.

Before the tournament started on 11 June, Likuena had conceded at least one goal in each of the five matches they had played since Maliehe took over the hot-seat, but things changed for the better at the regional tournament as the team kept clean sheets in all their three group-stage matches.

This improvement must surely have something to do with the fact that Marai was a top defender himself and last season made an impressive start to life as a premier league head-coach as he took LCS to a third-place finish on the 14-team log.

While technically, Moru is still the national team assistant coach, the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) must now make a decision about who is the best man to assist Maliehe going forward.

Another thing the association must do to maintain the standards Likuena set in Namibia is making sure this group of players remains together and is given all the assistance they need to continue growing.

Most of them are in their mid-20s and can surely continue serving the national team for the next five years.

I also feel Marai has done enough to retain his position in the national team as this is the first time the team has gone three matches on the trot without conceding a goal.

I know this is not the first time Likuena have gone beyond the group stage of the regional tournament but the way they went about it in Namibia was really impressive and showed the invaluable input of every single member of the technical staff.

There is no doubt Moru is one of our young coaches with the potential to go places, I feel he is too busy to continue assisting Maliehe and should therefore, make way for Marai.

His different responsibilities include being the vice-president of the Lesotho Sports and Recreation Commission (LSRC) and president of the Lesotho Institute of Sports Associations (LISA).

That, for me, is too much of a load to carry, let alone also being an assistant coach of a serious national team.

Because of this heavy workload, it means he cannot spend a lot of time coaching football which Marai does since he is fulltime with LCS.

All in all, there are a lot of positives to be taken from Likuena’s Cosafa campaign and next year, we should aim for the trophy itself.

The biggest problem with our national teams has been their failure to maintain standards and go a step further after a promising campaign.

The fact that we reached the Cosafa final in 2000 and have not achieved that again means we have gone backwards over the years and it is time we got it right and hopefully, Maliehe is the man to take us to the Promises Land.

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