Marai defends Likuena

Marai defends Likuena

MASERU – Lesotho assistant coach Mpitsa Marai says the national team did well in last week’s 2019 COSAFA Cup held in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa despite failing to fulfil the mandate they were given which was to reach the final and possibly win it.
Likuena finished in fourth position after losing to Zimbabwe in the bronze medal play-off. Likuena left the country without head coach Moses Maliehe who has been ill and Marai together with James Madidilane took charge of the team in Durban.

The technical team is yet to submit their report to the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) as Madidilane is still in South Africa and expected to return to the country tomorrow.
Likuena started the tournament from the quarter-finals for the third time which means there are not many games to play for the team but Marai said starting from the quarter-finals, which is reserved for COSAFA six highest ranked nations, shows that the football is improving in the country.
Marai continued that the coaching staff works hard to keep the players’ consistency when it comes to performances from game to game.

Marai refused to discuss what will happen to the technical team now that they have not reached the COSAFA Cup final as they were mandated by LEFA saying that will be decided by LEFA’s executive committee.
“If you look at the way we played it was better in the first game and in the last game,” Marai said.
“In the Botswana (semi-final) game we didn’t play well in the first half of the game. For the second half we sat down as the technical team and changed the way we were playing and that helped us a lot. Even though we couldn’t win, the game really changed a lot.

“When we sat down to prepare for the next game, which was against Zimbabwe, it was a little better for us given the way we played against Botswana. Our performance changed a lot in the last game (against Zimbabwe).
“It is true we were given a mandate to reach the finals and that has not changed. We are yet to give a report (to LEFA), we will wait to hear from our bosses,” he said.
Marai also defended Lesia Thetsane for his performances at the COSAFA Cup saying he is still a young player who is growing and playing in a different league abroad.
The United States based defender was not impressive in his three games in Durban but Marai insisted Likuena’s coaches and team have to help Thetsane.

He also confirmed that they are looking to bring new faces into the team for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers against South Africa in July and August.
“Lesia is a very good player and is still young,” Marai said.
“We played him in all games because his performance was good. We have to help him, especially with endurance; that’s the thing he is struggling with. Maybe it is his body. We have to help him maintain his endurance throughout the game. When a player is on the field we learn more about him especially when he doesn’t play here at home.”

Tlalane Phahla


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