Mohapi’s quest to identify talent

Mohapi’s quest to identify talent

MASERU-In January, Bafokeng Mohapi was unveiled as one of three coaches who will work with Lesotho national coach Thabo Senong in overseeing the country’s national teams.
The change was part of an overhaul by the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) that now sees Senong heading all of Lesotho’s national teams, from the Under-17 side all the way up to the senior squad, Likuena.

Senong has a team of assistant coaches that comprises Mohapi, Mpitsa Marai and Motolo Makepe which allows the South African mentor to focus mostly on Likuena.
Part of Mohapi’s job in the new four-man technical staff is to identify talent throughout the country and nurture any potential gems into future Likuena players.

It is a big task for Mohapi but, fortunately, he is no stranger to the game.
In addition to a vast club coaching career which has included stints at top sides such as Bantu and Majantja, Mohapi worked with the national Under-20 side last year.

In an interview with thepost yesterday, Mohapi said he has spent this year scouting players all over Lesotho, going from the Econet Premier League and A-Division to LEFA’s national Under-15 leagues.

Mohapi revealed there is a criterion he and his fellow national coaches are following as they cover the country’s 10 districts.
“The most important thing is technique, you have to be able to trap and pass the ball, and you must be able to beat your opponent when you have to. Communication, intelligence and speed are some of the other key things you want in a player,” Mohapi said.

The change in Lesotho’s national coaching set-up came because LEFA said it wants the national teams to have similar philosophies and playing styles with the goal being to make it easier for players to successfully move up from the development sides – Under-17 and Under-20 – to Likuena.
“We are instilling the same way of doing things from the senior team to the junior teams,” Mohapi told thepost.

“We want a smooth transition of players,” he continued.
“We want what is done with the senior men’s team to be uniform throughout the national teams. I can assure you, we are looking for players who can make it to Likuena and be able to play for the national team.”
The result is that Mohapi, Makepe and Marai work closely with Senong who was hired as Likuena coach last August.

The hope is that by improving continuity the new system will improve results as Lesotho looks to move up from its FIFA ranking of 139th in the world and closer to its highest-ever ranking of 105 which Likuena achieved in August 2014.

Lesotho is also in the middle of a qualifying campaign for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which is still scheduled to take place next January in Cameroon.
Mohapi said a strong character and intelligence are crucial traits that Lesotho’s coaching brains trust is looking for.
“We want players that are able to read where the game is going, that can read moments and make snap decisions when they have to,” he underlined.
“You must be able to change the game without having a coach telling you to do so. We want players who can decide for themselves on the pitch and know when to attack and defend. It is very important.”

Mohapi expressed regret the scouring and scouting has been halted by the coronavirus outbreak that forced all sporting activities to be suspended, “but, we plan to work hard after the situation goes back to normality again,” he said.

Mohapi said headway was being made adding that he enjoys working with young footballers because they are always eager to learn.
The former Bantu mentor said local players suffer from a lack of proper development structures but he insisted players that possess the right qualities will almost surely make it to the senior team regardless.
Drawing on his years of experience, Mohapi said he is always looking for players with discipline saying it is the difference between making it in football or not.

Mohapi said it’s not just discipline off the field that counts but also “how you carry yourself on the pitch and avoiding unnecessary bookings on the field that could cost the team.”
“A player must have discipline on the field, you have to be able to hold your temper and avoid bookings,” he said.
“I want disciplined players but I also don’t want to limit them, I want them to have their freedom to express themselves on and off the pitch.”

Mohapi continued: “Players must work hard to win matches and appreciate teamwork. Normally when players have been together for a long time they get to know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. That’s important as well.”

Tlalane Phahla

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