Former national team striker Motlatsi Shale believes Lesotho would find it extremely difficult to beat Botswana in the second leg of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) preliminary round qualifier and advance to the next round of the competition.
Likuena were held to a goalless draw by the Zebras at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday, and play their return leg of the Southern Zone on 5 July in Gaborone.
Shale, who led Bantu to their first premier league title in 87 years during the 2013/14 season, told the Lesotho Times that he did not see Lesotho improving in the reverse leg and expects an even worse performance from Seephephe Matete’s charges.
“I don’t see the team improving in Gaborone; I expect worse than this in the return leg. To me, it looks like the coaches have thrown in the towel already,” Shale said.
“I’m really shocked national team coaches keep pointing fingers at clubs for Likuena’s struggles in front of goal, when they are supposed to be addressing that problem at that level through the right combination of players and tactics.”
Shale, who recently parted ways with Bantu due to a contractual dispute, insisted Matete and his assistants should shoulder the blame for Likuena’s poor performance and nobody else.
“I think it’s very irresponsible to keep blaming coaches at club level for the national team’s goal-scoring problem when the coaches play a system that only has one striker. To make matters worse, the coaches have a few strikers in their team, yet have the chance to select as many forwards as they want. It is obvious the system they have been using is failing them and should have changed it a long time ago.
“Against Botswana, Nkoto Masoabi struggled for the whole game playing as a lone striker yet the coaches had Thabiso Brown on the bench. If the two of them had played together, they could have done much better. I also fail to understand why the country’s leading goal-scorer, Litšepe Marabe, started the match on the bench when the team was desperate to win at home,” he said.
“During my days playing for Likuena, we would have five top strikers in the squad—myself, Teele Ntšonyana, Lebajoa Mphongoa, Majara Masupha and Kabelo Mosothoana—and the coaches always played two strikers in every match. But we all knew I could not be play with Ntšonyana as our style of play was a bit similar and would always be paired with a speedy striker so that we could complement each other. That is what I also feel we need at the moment,” Shale said.
According to Shale, Likuena are not showing the determination needed for any team to win against a motivated opponent.
“On Sunday, I saw a team that lacked hunger to win. The tactics were poor and even the body language of the players said it all—that something was lacking in camp. What the coach should do now is reduce the number of players in midfield and put more strikers because we need to score in order to progress not only against Botswana but also the on-going 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.”
The former Bloemfontein Celtic striker added even midfielder Hlompho Kalake was played out of position, as a winger, which he said was doomed to fail the team.
“We might not know everything that is happening in the Likuena camp, but if there are any problems, then the coach should come out and spell them out for the nation to know. That is because if he continues to remain silent, it is his that is going to be on the block,” Shale said.