LIKUENA’S hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations suffered a big blow on Saturday after Moses Maliehe’s side suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss to Uganda in Kampala.
Moses Maliehe’s side failed to come to the party again on Tuesday at Setsoto Stadium, where the East African country won 2-0.
It was disappointing for the home side to conceded as early as the sixth minute and I think the body language denoted that all was not well in the camp.
It was evident in the return leg that Likuena lacked the fighting spirit for a team that was playing in front of its home supporters.
I also think that it was always going to be difficult for the team to get a result after the shambolic preparations leading to the trip to East Africa.
The team suffered a humiliating 9-1 loss to Free State Stars in a practice match though the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA), later released a press statement that the team, lost 7-1, which for me doesn’t make any difference.
I don’t see anything wrong if Likuena plays practice matches against South African Premier League clubs but what is problematic for me is when the team suffers such a humiliation.
There is no doubt that this also worked against the confidence of the players leading to the important match against the Cranes.
As much as I understand that the coach wanted to try combinations ahead of the trip to Uganda, I think in the first place it was wrong to have played that match.
Most of the players in the Likuena squad were coming from a difficult week having played two games for their clubs in a space of two days and were two days later again on another trip to Bethlehem and comeback to prepare for the trip to Uganda.
This for me was poor planning by the association and of course the management of Likuena because the players were overstretched.
A player like Tumelo Khutlang had just come from a busy weekend with his team Black Leopards that had just played Golden Arrows in Durban and I think the best thing that Likuena should have done was to go to Uganda on time and acclimatise themselves travelling to Bethlehem to play Free State Stars.
It was also shocking to learn that the team only learnt on the eve of their trip to Bethlehem that striker Thapelo Tale needed a new passport to be able to travel with the team to Uganda.
This is a player who was recently recalled to the national team set-up and had been training with Likuena for the last three weeks.
LeFA and the Likuena management should know better that they need to check the passports of each player the moment he is called into the squad.
This for me is one of those things that show that we are behind the rest of the continent when it comes to the administration of the game. We make the same mistakes year in year out but we hope to achieve different results.
I believe that our soccer desperately needs change as far as management is concerned.
The LeFA president, Ntate Salemane Phafane and his committee have failed our football for a long time and its time that they make way for new ideas and younger blood.
The fact that Uganda were also able to arrive in the country almost a day earlier Likuena after the two teams played on Saturday also speaks to the incompetence of the football mother body.
Yes, I understand that the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and his government chartered a plane for the Cranes but it still doesn’t make sense that the visitors Cranes arrived in Maseru on Sunday morning while Likuena only landed in Johannesburg on the evening of the same day. The team endured another torturous five hours on a road trip from Johannesburg to Maseru.
I strongly believe that Likuena would have also arrived back in Maseru earlier on Sunday had LeFA made their bookings earlier and also planned for the game on time.
Regarding the performance on Saturday, the Likuena coach will be the first to admit that playing a makeshift left-back in Jane Thabantšo in the absence of suspended Bokang Sello was a recipe for disaster.
The same goes for starting Mohau Kuenane in goal ahead of Likano Mphuthi and Same Ketsekile. Kuenane is club-less and has not played competitive football in a long time. He just doesn’t have the confidence to play at that level.
Likuena have now squandered a very good opportunity to play at the continental competition for the first time. Like I have said previously, this was a relatively easy group compared to what we have had in a long time.
But like we have done over the years, we failed to come to the party when it mattered most coupled with administrations blunders.
Our association has failed even on the small things such as press conferences before and after the games which are compulsory when it comes to international matches and surely, it’s not surprising that they are also failing on the important matters of the game.
We looked like a team that didn’t have a plan on the day and it was not surprising that in the end we lost 3-0.
I think the government through the ministry of sports as well let the team down in the two matches because should have come to the party in the travelling arrangements of the trip in Uganda to avoid the humiliation that the players had to go through on their way from Uganda.
It’s just unfair that the players were expected to deliver when they only arrived back in the country on the wee hours of Monday compared to Uganda that arrived in Maseru early on Sunday.
The government must also understand that football is now business and it’s clear that Uganda players were very motivated after the windfall of M75 000 for each player ahead of the double header against Lesotho.
We can’t continue to be the laughing stock of the continent like this. It has to stop.