- as Maliehe’s future hangs in the balance
LESOTHO Football Association (LeFA) technical director Leslie Notši has been appointed caretaker coach for the senior soccer national team, Likuena.
Notši will lead the team in the forthcoming CHAN qualifiers against South Africa on 28 July in Maseru and 6 August 2019 at a yet to be confirmed venue in South Africa.
The move casts a shadow over the future of the incumbent coach Moses Maliehe who is said to be unwell. Maliehe also failed to travel with the team for its COSAFA campaign in Durban last month leaving his role to his assistant Mpitsa Marai. Marai was assisted by Bantu coach James Madidilane in the COSAFA campaign.
There are increasing doubts over Maliehe’s future after LeFA gave him and his technical team an ultimatum to play in the final of the COSAFA and to beat South Africa in the forthcoming CHAN qualifiers and qualify for the tournament.
The daunting task came after Likuena’s dismal showing away in Cape Verde earlier this year which cost them their maiden AFCON appearance when they drew nil-all instead of winning the game.
Tanzania thumped Uganda in the other group match and eventually qualified as the second placed side in the group. Had Likuena won, they would still have qualified ahead of Tanzania.
It was on the back of that showing that LeFA set targets for Maliehe and his team to qualify for the COSAFA final and to beat South Africa saying they would review the performances in August.
Notši first coached Likuena in 2009 taking over from Zavisa Milosavljevic until he left in 2014 to join South African National First Division side Garankuwa United where he only lasted for a season. He then came back to coach Kick4Life but was last year appointed the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) technical director.
LeFA secretary general Mokhosi Mohapi announced yesterday that Maliehe has been given a leave of absence to allow him to recover fully.
“The LeFA national executive committee (NEC) has decided to give Ntate Moses a leave of absence to allow him time look into his life to fully recover as he has been struggling with illness,” Mohapi said.
“Maybe it’s probably the stress that comes with the nature of his job, so we thought it was best to give him time away and in his place our technical director Ntate Leslie Notši will take over as the caretaker coach for the two matches against South Africa. He started working with the team Tuesday.”
Mohapi said Notši was appointed to take charge of the team because of the nature of the match and the opponents they will be playing.
“We didn’t want to get someone new to coach the team and we thought it was best to take someone who is already in the structures to help the two assistants (Marai and Madidilane). We all know Leslie has vast experience as a coach hence we saw it fit to give him the job. He will double as the technical director.
“He is no stranger to coaching at that level because he also has the requisite experience to hold the position.”
However, Mohapi was quick to point out that the terms given to the senior national team technical team of qualifying for CHAN still remains the same.
“If the team wins against South Africa and Ntate Moses is in the right shape to come back to work, he will resume his duties. If the team loses, that is where their engagement in the team will end. But Notši will not lose his job as the technical director,” Mohapi said.
Mohapi also confirmed that LCS and the veteran goalkeeper Sam Ketsekile will step in for resigned Postnet Omony as the interim goalkeepers coach.
“Omony resigned last month after receiving an offer from Chippa United, so we have appointed Ketsekile the interim goalkeeper coach,” Mohapi said.
He added that they have given Notši the full rights to select the players whom he believes can do the job.
“We don’t want to cause a mayhem. The coach should select the team that he is sure will fight tooth and nail to win.”
In preparation for the CHAN matches, Likuena will play two friendlies away to Botswana on 19 and 21 July.