Shokhoe: working magic behind the scenes

Shokhoe: working magic behind the scenes

LuciahPhahla

Maseru

Lesotho is still on a high after the COSAFA Castle Cup where Likuena reached the quarterfinals.
One of the team’s stars was goalkeeper Daniel Jousse who expertly marshalled Likuena’s defence and conceded just once in 360 minutes of action.
The man behind some of that success is MatsoaiShokhoe, Lesotho’s goalkeeper coach since 2014.
Shokhoe’s stint in mentoring the country’s best keepers is the next chapter for the 33-year-old Mazenod native who featured for Matlama from 2005 until 2013, a productive decade that included a league title in 2010.
During his conversation with thepostShokhoe is relentlessly enthusiastic about the state of keepers in Lesotho.
It is clear he is a student of the craft and it is this passion that led Shokhoe to pursue a career in coaching after he decided to hang his gloves. And, although it is at times difficult for footballers to transition after retirement, Shokhoe got his break quickly when he was appointed Matlama goalkeeper coach in June 2014.
The early results are solid.
Under his mentorship ‘TsePutsoa’ boast several promising goalkeepers on their books headed by current first choice MakhethaThakeli and backup KabeloLichaba who is 22.
Shokhoe has high hopes for the 28-year-old Thakeli.
“After I retired I decided to become a goalkeeper coach because I wanted to pass the knowledge I have to other goalkeepers out there,” he explains. “I have been with Matlama for a very long time, from 2005 until 2013 when I retired and started pursuing a coaching job in 2014.”
On Makhetha, Shokhoe continues: “He lacks some attributes but they are things we can work on in terms of handling the ball and dealing with crosses. But, he has potential to become a good goalkeeper.”
Shokhoe’s work at Pitso Ground runs concurrently with duties with the national team. He was appointed Lesotho’s keeper trainer in late 2014 by previous coach SeephepheMatete. And, despite Matete being replaced last November, Shokhoe has kept his job under new caretaker boss Moses Maliehe.
It is a job that comes with different challenges, he says.
“It’s challenging working with different goalkeepers from different clubs at the national teams because sometimes you find that there are no goalkeeper coaches where they come from.”
However, it is also exciting.
Shokhoe sees a boom of young, talented goalkeepers in Lesotho and among them he rates Lesotho Correctional Service keeper Jousse as the best shot stopper in the country.
Jousse played four matches at the COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia and only conceded his first goal in the 65th minute of Lesotho’s quarterfinal against South Africa after keeping three clean-sheets in the group stage.
Shokhoe says Jousse’s reflexes and positioning were central to his brilliant performances at the tournament.
“For me I would say Daniel Jousse is the best. He has the attributes of a good goalkeeper; he can organise his defence, deal with crosses and knows how to position himself which I think really helped him in Namibia and allowed him to perform the way he did, although I still have to credit the defence for a good job,” he says.
Shokhoe is visibly proud of Jousse’s display.
“I always want the goalkeeper I am coaching to win the best goalkeeper award,” he states. “Even when I went to Namibia I wanted my goalkeeper to be named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. At Matlama it is still the same, I wanted Makhetha to be the best last season.”
The challenge now is to build on the high standards set in Namibia and one aspect Lesotho’s keepers have to overcome is a lack of height.
It was, for instance, one of the reasons Jousse was replaced by LitebohoMokhehle just before Lesotho’s penalty shootout loss to South Africa.
“I advised the coach to take out Jousse before the penalties,” Shokhoe reveals. “Liteboho has height that I thought could work for us in the penalty shootout. But, of course, penalties do go with a little bit of luck.”
“Height is the most important thing in a goalkeeper,” he adds. “If you are short that puts you at a disadvantage because the opponents will not respect you at all. But, if you have the height, that will work for you when it comes to crosses and long balls.”
Being able to organise the defence, deal with crosses and distribute the ball decisively are other attributes Shokhoe looks for in a goalkeeper.
But, “while all these attributes are important in a goalkeeper, determination and love for the game is still the most important thing,” Shokhoe insists.
“A goalkeeper may not have many attributes that make a complete goalkeeper but still go on to be one of the best because of determination.”
Shokhoe says Kick4Life’s SeleThetsane and Lioli’sKananeloMakhooane are goalkeepers showing the potential to break into the national team. Thetsane, for example, was named Kick4Life’s player of the season last month and is regarded as one of the most improved players in the league.
“I think now SeleThetsane and KananeloMakhooane are coming to that level of Jousse and Liteboho, they have potential to become great goalkeepers, even for the country,” Shokhoe says.
The Matlama and Likuena trainer also uses examples from international football as references in his work and he rates Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and Germany’s Manuel Neuer as the best in the game.
When it comes to ball distribution, Kaizer Chiefs and South Africa international ItumelengKhune is the master, Shokhoe says.
“For me, in South Africa, perhaps in all Africa, ItumelengKhune is still the best. His ball distribution is out of this world. If you look internationally, Italian goalkeeper Buffon is a complete goalkeeper. Together with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, those are the best goalkeepers for me. They are complete,” he says.
Shokhoe also points to Buffon’s 38 years of age as an indication that goalkeepers, like wine, get better with time. Today, keepers can play until 40; the more a goalkeeper grows, the more he matures, Shokhoe believes, which is why he is preaching patience when it comes to Lesotho’s upcoming generation of stoppers.
“Believe me, the older the goalkeeper gets, the more important he becomes, because when he is old now he plays with his mind and everything he has learned,” he says.
“What is good with goalkeepers is that they can play until they are 40 or something, unlike an on-field player. Look at Buffon, he is 38 or 39 years and he is the best.”
Going forward Shokhoe says his assignment is to scout more talented goalkeepers throughout Lesotho and to produce the best quality for Matlama and Likuena.
“I am grateful for this task and I want to give everyone from different parts of the country a chance.”

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