Mehalalitoe not to blame for poor showing

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Moorosi Tsiane

LESOTHO’S women national team, Mehalalitoe was last week booted out of the ongoing COSAFA championship in Port Elizabeth following a disastrous performance which saw them losing two consecutive Group B matches.

The Lehloenya Nkhasi coached side suffered an 8-0 humiliation at the hands of Zambia last Wednesday before being thumped 9-0 by Malawi to complete their 2020 COSAFA campaign.

In all honesty, the writing was already on the wall and it never shocked me that the performances were this dismal.

This is because shortly before the team left for Port Elizabeth, the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) surprisingly sacked the team’s then coach Lire Phiri and appointed Nkhasi.

The decision to sack Phiri just few weeks before the tournament was always going to backfire.

It is only unfortunate that whenever the administration fails in terms of preparing, the athletes themselves face the humiliation.

When Phiri was appointed coach in May last year, his mandate was to rebuild the team which had endured a run of poor performances with former coach Monaheng Montšo.

LeFA then decided not to sign up the team for last year’s COSAFA, a reason which I supported completely because it was to give Phiri adequate time to work with his charges in preparing the team only for him to be fired before his debut outing with the team.

For me, this was a poor decision considering that football activities had been suspended for almost seven months due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

It was always going to be a challenge for our girls after so many months of dormancy considering the heavyweights Malawi and Zambia in their group.

Now Nkhasi is also to be blamed for his “poor selection” after picking LDF players who had just returned from an army training.

I understand that as a coach, Nkhasi would have banked on the LDF players’ who he knew having coached them at club level. He however, failed to consider that they had been out of action since last year. Fitness from army training is different from fitness required for soccer.

The said players didn’t even get enough rest and you could see them in their first match against Zambia. They were trailing 1-0 at the break but conceded seven goals in the second half. They were not fit.

It was even worse on Sunday where they conceded two goals in the opening five minutes. It rained goals afterwards.

It’s only a pity that the players are the ones bearing the humiliation caused by poor preparations. We could have made better arrangements to prepare the team.

When LeFA opted to pull out their teams from the Region 5 Games which were penned in for December this year but have now been postponed, it said that it was already “too late” and the government was not helping the teams to start their preparations. One would have thought they would do things differently when they had the means to prepare for competitions.

I am worried that we might experience the same humiliation with Makoanyane XI who only started their preparations for COSAFA this week for a tournament starting in the first week of December.

I know that Lesotho’s football is generally poor compared to that of other countries but had they prepared better, they could have returned with better results.

We must improve our planning to ensure that we do things right and avoid humiliation.

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