Matete says goodbye

Matete says goodbye

MASERU – A 45-year veteran in football, Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) vice-president Rantsubise Matete has seen it all in the local game.
Known for his composed demeanour, Matete has been a constant feature at LEFA’s headquarters for over a decade but he believes it is time for him to step away from the governing body.
Matete is serving his third term at LEFA –so far it is 12 years – and is the oldest member at the association.

That run is about to come to an end, however.
In a long chat with thepost from his home on Monday, Matete revealed he will not stand when the next LEFA executive elections come.
In fact, Matete said he was ready to walk away after his last term in LEFA’s executive ended in 2012 but was persuaded to stay on by people who believed he still had a lot to offer to Lesotho football.

During a fascinating chat, Matete went down memory lane and all the way back to 1974 when he began his journey in football at Lijabatho Football Club.
Unlike many of his peers Matete did not have a long playing career; instead he quickly transitioned into administration and management.
As acting manager of Lijabatho from 1976, Matete did almost everything on his own which included registering of the team and its players every season. Lijabatho were promoted to Lesotho’s Premier League in 1978 and Matete was officially elected as a member of the club’s executive committee member in 1979.

Even after being in football for so long, Matete says he remains firmly driven by passion. He says football is his life; it is what makes him leave his home every day to go to work at LEFA.
Matete revealed he has always been deeply invested in the game, so much so that he would work harder in football than at his day job.

At LEFA, executive committee members are volunteers. They only receive income through the allowances they get when travelling abroad with the country’s national teams.
“In 1984, I left for Tanzania to study journalism for two years and when I came back I found (Lijabatho) back in the lower division and I had to start from the beginning,” Matete said.
“I went for an administration course organised by FIFA around that time and it helped me a lot. I know how to run a football club. If you realise, I am the oldest (person) in football that is still active and I am intending to not stand for the next elections. The only person (my age) who is still in football is Pitso Mosothoane but he is only active at Linare, not at the national level,” he added.

After serving Lijabatho for two decades, Matete was elected to the Maseru District Football Association (DIFA) committee and it is through the DIFAs that he ended up at LEFA. He is still involved with Lijabatho, which has now gained promotion to the Premier League, on an advisory basis.

Matete said being a journalist helped him a great deal when he first stood for elections. “Everybody knew who I was from my writing for local newspapers,” he laughed.
He was elected to the executive committee of LEFA in 2008 and one of his main achievements has been restructuring and strengthening of the A-Division Management Committee (ADMACO) which he oversaw from 2012.

The first division organising body is now a stable organisation overseeing a better run league.
“I felt it was not right to stand for elections many times because we need to give others a chance, but a lot of people were saying there is still a lot I need to do in football and then I stood for elections again in 2012,” Matete said.

“After that, the executive committee gave me a difficult job of administering the A-Division. The concern of the (LEFA) executive was that ADMACO was not stable; the people that were in the committee were serving their own interests. I was given an instruction to stabilise ADMACO and right now ADMACO is one of the most stable committees in LEFA’s structures.”
“After that I managed the senior national teams,” Matete added.

“I started with the Under-20 (national side) and then the national team. They gave me a coach, Moses Maliehe. We worked well and we went to all COSAFA Cup tournaments (with the senior side). When we were in Namibia (in 2016) we broke a quite number of records. In the group stages, we won all the three games we played without conceding. Another record that still stands is that of Jane Thaba-Ntšo, he scored a goal after 34 seconds (against Mauritius). The last COSAFA Cup we went to was the one in Polokwane (in 2018) where we reached the semis. All in all, we managed the national team where our most impressive records are in the COSAFA tournaments,” he said.

Likuena have a good recent record at the COSAFA Cup and have reached the semi-finals at the previous two editions. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to other competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and the World Cup qualifiers.
Matete said he cannot explain why Lesotho has done well in certain competitions but failed in others.

He continued that LEFA’s executive committee has not decided on the future of the national team after its failure to qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Egypt and there are no plans to part ways with Maliehe as Likuena head coach.
Lesotho fell at the final hurdle of AFCON qualifying last month after a goalless draw away to Cape Verde. Likuena needed a win to advance to Egypt, tickets went to Tanzania and Uganda.
“I cannot tell you the reasons (Lesotho failed to qualify), it is something we are still looking at: how we are failing in other competitions but do well in COSAFA,” Matete said.

“I am still talking to my coach (Maliehe) to find out why we aren’t doing well in the AFCON although this time around I must tell you, we did not do well but it was the best record we have had (in qualifying). Although people were looking at qualifying for finals in Egypt, we did well in general and it is going to improve our FIFA rankings. As you are aware, Cape Verde is not an easy team, you see they beat South Africa twice (in 2017),” he said.

“We do sit with the coach, specifically LEFA’s executive committee,” Matete added.
“We sat down with the coach to ask him what happened (in the final AFCON 2019 qualifier against Cape Verde) and what circumstances made us (fail). After grilling him for quite a long time, we told him we want a written report and he has now submitted his report on what happened in Cape Verde like any other games we have played. We played with (Cape Verde) here at home (last September) and they scored us with three minutes (to go in the game in a 1-1 draw). We wanted to know why that happened, and go remedy that,” he continued.
Matete admits it is difficult to administer football in the country because it is not on a professional level and everyone has an opinion.

He highlighted the problems administrators have at club level, mainly that fans have more influence on whether coaches stay or leave at local clubs. However, at executive LEFA level, Matete said the executive committee does what it believes is right and does not appoint managers and coaches depending on what the supporters think.
“They speak and they put us under a lot of pressure but we don’t appoint coaches depending on what the supporters say,” Matete said.

“As the committee we have to tell ourselves that our coach is not doing well, let’s make some changes, but at the moment we are not at that stage. We are not going to do so now, we need to see things first. For example, during the 2010 World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers each Likuena player received M8 000 per match yet we did not win any match and these players were getting big incentives of M8 000 per match. They were getting (incentives) from the ministry and they did not win a single game. If you look at Moses now, we need to work with him to make sure he is doing the right things. If he is not, that’s when you can look at it. At club level, administrators do get in danger sometimes and have to release the coach because the supporters are fighting and send death threats, which is not right. At club level, the supporters have a lot of influence on whether the coach stays or goes,” he said.
“We administer football not technical matters,” Matete said.

“Who is playing and doing what, we should not get into that. You could have called so and so, so and so doesn’t do this; we should not do that and we are not doing that, the decision is with the coach. He brings his selection and then we say give us results then,” he added.
“Football is a game known by everyone and everyone has an opinion. It is extremely difficult managing football in this country where it is not professional because everybody has an opinion but it needs a sober mind. Do what you believe is right. They say we don’t listen, but sometimes you need to do what you have to do. It is difficult.”

Tlalane Phahla

 

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