Secker gets Lijabatho  firing from all angles

Secker gets Lijabatho firing from all angles

MASERU-Last season, Lijabatho looked destined to be relegated from the Premier league until the 2019/20 campaign ended abruptly last March due to the coronavirus pandemic which saved the top-flight debutants.
When all was said and done, the Premier League Management Committee decided not to relegate any teams; instead, it only promoted two clubs from the first division which increased the number of sides in the elite league to 14.

Although, the decision got Lijabatho got off the hook, many thought it was only a temporary reprieve and they would struggle again this term.
However, that has not been the case.
Lijabatho have been nothing short of sensational since the 2020/21 season started in September.

After four games Thabile Secker’s side have won three times and lost once with their lone defeat coming at the hands of in-form defending champions, Bantu.
Lijabatho’s scalps include a much-fancied Lioli side and they have scored an impressive 10 goals in their four games, conceding just twice.

The mastermind is Secker who is rebuilding his reputation after a disastrous stay at Lioli in 2019.
Until that point Secker, who was a league winner as a player with Lesotho Correctional Service and Lioli, had been enjoying a fine start to his coaching career.

Notably, Secker guided Sky Battalion to a brilliant fifth place finish in the 2016/17 Premier League season before he moved to Manonyane whom he led to fourth in the 2017/18 A-Division South Stream campaign.
Those achievements paved the way for Secker’s big move to Matlama in 2018 and he etched his named into ‘Tse Putsoa’ folklore a year later by guiding the team to a first league title since 2010.

Shortly afterwards Secker switched to Lioli amid much fanfare, but he only lasted three tumultuous months in Teyateyaneng before getting the sack.
Secker, however, is proving his worth again with an unfancied Lijabatho whom he joined in January last year halfway through their first-ever Premiership campaign.

Today, Lijabatho are brimming with confidence and even have hopes of finishing high up the table after their fine start to the Vodacom Premier League season.
They showed their potential to upset the applecart in their last game before Christmas when Lijabatho came out with a memorable 2-1 victory over Lioli to maintain their great start to the campaign.

Speaking to thepost on Wednesday, Secker said it is important they started the season well.
He said confidence now is sky high amongst the players and they have belief they can win every game they go into.
“After beating Lioli, the players now believe they can go on and win any game,” Secker said.

“When you are leading a team (as a coach) you have to give them the confidence that they can win any game, no matter who your opponents are. You give your team confidence that they can achieve anything,” he added.
So far Lijabatho are believing and they are fourth on the Vodacom Premier League table with nine points.

Besides Lioli they have also brushed aside Likhopo and Sefotha-fotha, 3-1 and 3-0 respectively.
Secker said his mission is to make sure the top-flight new boys are not back where they were last season and looking up the table.
Lijabatho are punching above their weight and Secker believes they have what it takes to keep it up.

“I arrived here mid-season, I arrived in January (last year) and I didn’t start with the team (in the offseason) but now I had an opportunity to assess my team and look for some of the players I think will add value and I can see they have (done that). Our team is now okay in all departments,” Secker said.

“I don’t think there is a small team that can get in the Premier League. If they play in the same league they are the same, what differs is achievements,” he added.
Secker also weighed in on teams having five substitutions instead of three this season saying it depends on how each individual coach utilises them.
“It depends on how you use them,” Secker said.

“You can limit them, or use them wisely because you may have to sub a player to avoid a yellow card or suspension, or maybe you see that the way they are playing he will get injured and you can take him off,” he added.
With their fine start to the season Lijabatho didn’t need any disruptions and the one thing that can disturb their momentum now is the latest national lockdown and sports shutdown for the next two weeks.

Secker admitted he is a little bit worried Lijabatho may lose the head of steam they had built up before the lockdown was announced on Tuesday.
“It is going to affect our performance given where we were,” Secker said.
“We were going out to watch how other teams play but now we are going to start from the beginning,” Secker added

“Teams that we thought were at a certain stage are also going to start from the beginning with us. But, I think given time to prepare, we will get back to where we were.”

Tlalane Phahla

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