Notši’s illustrious record

Notši’s illustrious record

MASERU – Leslie Notši’s record as Lesotho’s national team coach remains unblemished.
Last month, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) technical director was drafted in to lead Likuena on a temporary basis because of an illness to incumbent coach Moses Maliehe and Notši was given the challenging task of managing the senior side on short notice.

Unfazed, Notši promptly worked his magic and led Likuena to a memorable 2020 CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifying success over South Africa earlier this month and, despite such a short spell, he leaves the national side in a better place.
With LEFA expected to announce a new permanent Likuena coach within the coming week, Notši will return to his equally challenging fulltime post as LEFA’s technical director where conducts the future of Lesotho football.

His two-month spell with Likuena was his third at the helm.
The first came as a caretaker coach during the 2009 COSAFA Cup where Lesotho beat Mauritius and drew with hosts Zimbabwe.
Notši then led Likuena on a fulltime basis from April 2011 until December 2013 during which he laid the foundations for Lesotho’s highest FIFA ranking of 105 achieved in August 2014.
In his third run, Notši again added his name to history by masterminding Likuena’s first competitive win over South Africa with a 3-2 win in the sides’ CHAN first leg qualifier. He then finished the job with a 3-0 master-class in the return game in Johannesburg.

Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Notši said he is proud of what Likuena have achieved in the short time he has been with them.
He worked with Mpitsa Marai and James Madidilane and the trio were also together when Lesotho finished fourth at the 2019 COSAFA Cup in June.
Notši said he is swamped with work as LEFA’s technical director but was happy to answer the call to lead the national team.
“I am happy because I have a lot of work in my job as the technical director but when the (LEFA) leadership come and say ‘we have a problem’, I think of myself as a soldier,” Notši said.

“When I get that assignment from the leadership, when my country is calling, it is my duty as a Mosotho and a coach. I sat down with those who were already in the team and we had good results. I am proud that I have been part of that. In the history of Lesotho football I am one of those that rewrote history,” he said.

With a new Likuena coach still to be officially confirmed, Likuena remain under Notši as they prepare to face Ethiopia in a two-legged 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier on September 2 and 10.
The two nations have met before. That came during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers and Likuena lost home and away.
However, Notši believes Lesotho has improved since and is better equipped to face Ethiopia which is ranked 150th in the world by FIFA, six places below Likuena.

He said Likuena’s recent performances are encouraging and give the team confidence going into the tie.
“Ethiopia is a very strong team but I think now we have improved a lot defensively and offensively, we have also grown a lot,” Notši said.
“It is alright that we are playing against Ethiopia so that we can test ourselves because when you look at the games we have played – COSAFA and CHAN – we have shown that Lesotho is growing and our league is playing a big role because the players playing for the national team are coming from the (local) clubs. So when the league is growing I am encouraged because Likuena’s performance comes from club football so I have confidence the team will do well,” he said.

However, after defeating South Africa, the team will have to deal with the pressure of increased expectations.
Notši said Likuena’s technical staff is aware and has made the players mindful that the nation is expecting more from them and it is important they manage expectations well.
“We have to make sure the players understand,” Notši said.
“We have just talked to them and said now we have raised the expectations, what is important is for them is to be focused in their job: eat well, take care (of yourselves), rest in time and be consistent in the game. That’s the only way for me,” he added.

“We need to be very consistent on and off the pitch because the team isn’t only made because of the performance but your social life, and everything you do outside has influence on your game. If we can all do that and respect the game we will be consistent and our results will not suffer.”
Notši continued: “The confidence is high but we don’t want it to be too much because, yes, we are in the right phase of growth but we should not allow a victory to take away our focus.
“We are doing well so far because the players understand that when you grow or when you are successful your responsibilities grow, so we have to manage that situation.”

Likuena have started training in preparation for their date with Ethiopia but are without Tumelo Khutlang, Tshwarelo Bereng, Motebang Sera, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi and Masoabi Nkoto who are based in South Africa.
Likuena are also without Matlama’s Rethabile Mokokoane, Lisema Lebokollane and Jane Thaba-Ntšo who are with the Lesotho champions as they prepare for Sunday’s CAF Champions League second leg qualifier away to club Petro de Luanda of Angola.
The players are expected to join the rest of the Lesotho squad for a full-time camp on Monday.

“We have to assess them,” Notši said.
“The ones from Matlama I think are still on the same level. They are playing and they have their own programme and I am sure they are fine. What might give us a problem is if they come back with injuries.”
“The ones in South Africa, Khutlang and Bereng, were playing for Black Leopards, Sera we will speak to his coach and the same with Mkhwanazi and Nkoto,” he said.

Notši said he is looking forward to welcoming the side’s foreign legion back into the Likuena fold, in particular Sera who is buzzing since his dream move to South Africa’s elite league last month.
“His confidence is very high after signing with Bloemfontein Celtic and we are sure when we call him, he will come with good things that we know and maybe even more,” Notši said.
“It is very important to look at the good things (Sera) is bringing to the team on top of what we already have.”

Tlalane Phahla


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