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‘Coaches must broaden knowledge’

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Maseru– Education is one of the keys in coaching because it ensures coaches are able to develop players to their full potential.
It also helps coaches keep up with ever-changing coaching trends and stay relevant in the demanding world of football.
The first step in coaching education, of course, is completing courses and acquiring relevant certificates.
However, there are still many Basotho coaches who are coaching and developing players without relevant qualifications.
This week, thepost caught up with the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) technical director Lehlohonolo Thotanyana who stressed the importance of coaching education in the development of the country’s football.

He said attending coaching workshops is crucial in helping coaches sharpen and broaden their knowledge. Thotanyana also touched on the challenges local players face when it comes to trying their luck outside the country.

In April, LEFA awarded CAF A-Licences to 26 coaches, most of them local. How important are licences in coaching?
Let’s make an example with a teacher who did not go to college but his students are still passing. You can ask, what is the difference and importance of going to college? It is the same in coaching. Sometimes you may think you are coaching correctly with no licence without realising you are not doing it right and it catches up over time.

Many times when people who coached without licences come to the coaching courses they realise that they have been doing things the wrong way, which is why it is important for a person to come to coaching workshops because it can open your eyes to many things.
There is an English saying that ‘practice makes perfect’ but now they say it doesn’t make perfect but it makes permanent. The bad habits you been practicing become permanent. Sometimes we do things thinking we are doing them the right way yet we are wrong.

Let me give you an example. Sometimes you hear people say our senior players lack basics. Where do they get those basics? Those are things they should get while they are still young. But unqualified coaches don’t give those correct basics because they are thinking they are coaching the right way, yet they are not.

Premier league players go into coaching after their playing days are over. Just because somebody is a good player, does that make them good coach? What makes a good coach?

Not necessarily. You may be a good player but be a bad coach. On the other hand you may find someone did not play football at all but is a good coach. Coaching is something different from playing. It is not an extension of playing football or being a football player. Coaching is a different ballgame altogether.

Then what makes one a good coach?
It’s just the drive a person has, their determination perhaps coupled with talent. Coaching involves a lot of qualities. What makes a good coach is the personality you have because some of the qualities we draw from in coaching are about you. The kind of person you are makes a huge difference.

It seems our clubs don’t have patience these days. In the 2015/16 season Bantu had three different coaches, Likhopo as well parted ways with Shalane Lehohla in the same season. Linare have also made several coaching changes over the past year and so have Sundawana. There doesn’t seem to be a willingness to wait amongst clubs. Why is that?

Unfortunately, that is the life in football: club administrators don’t want to hear about a coach being given a chance to build – they want results. And it happens around the world; that is why you find coaches being changed all the time and being recycled continuously.

From what you know about Lesotho football – from youth level to the premier league to the national team – what’s holding Lesotho back? Why haven’t we qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) despite the talent we have?

I’m not too sure what I can say is the cause, because you may find it is a combination of many factors. For example, we have had two successful Under-20 teams in recent years. Let me talk about one, we had an Under-20 team (that qualified for the 2005 Under-20 African Championships) that progressed to Under-23 and some players moved on to the senior team.

That team got a lot of exposure while they were in their development stage. They played together at Under-12, Under-15 and Under-17 international tournaments, all the way until Under-20. They played and grew together.

They were exposed so much to the international stage that it was no longer a big deal for them. They performed well with no problems. We don’t expose our players to the international stage while they are still young. You may find that when the local league is not strong, it will not give you a strong national team.

We have talented players who can do miracles with the ball but can’t apply proper techniques to help their clubs win matches or solve problems in the game. How important is technique? I think it is attitude; they don’t have that passion to play football with determination. I think technique may come later from coaching but, naturally, sometimes you may find the technical levels of certain players do not come as a result of coaching but from natural talent.

So, you may find the players are talented technically because when you say a person is talented that means their technical levels are good, not levels brought by coaching, but the talent he was born with.

What plans and strategies do you have in place to improve the level of coaching in Lesotho, especially at grassroots level?
We are still trying to address this. It has been done before, even before I come into this office. There are levels. For instance, there is Level 1 which is a domestic curriculum. In terms of coaching we are helped by CAF (Confederation of African Football) and FIFA (Federation of International Football Association). They come with certain systems; CAF has an A Licence, B Licence and C Licence, then FIFA will come with some supplementary courses such as for goalkeeping or youth. For youth, they help educate grassroots coaches. But, all the things that these two federations may come with mean little if as a country you don’t have anything, and we are trying to get there. We are trying to design our own curriculum in terms of a development coaching pathway.

Is it a concern that for national teams it always appears to be the same people who coach? Motlalepula Majoro, Halemakale Mahlaha, Moses Maliehe, Seephephe Matete. Why are we not producing new and young coaches?
Moses is young; he was coached by Ntate Matete. He works with (with Lesotho assistant coach) Mpitsa Marai who is younger than him in terms of age, so they are young. But the truth is we do need coaches that need to be deployed. In short, we don’t have people who are in the same age (group) with ntate Matete who are still in coaching circles, at least at national level.

Is there a vision and strategic plan that includes goals and targets that you have decided with national coach Moses Maliehe?
The support is here for anything he wants. When (Maliehe) was hired there was mandate given to him and he also gave us his vision. It’s a matter of how they connect in that whole process, but there is support. The vision and the strategic plan are there for the association. The coach’s mandate may not necessarily be the strategic plan but it may actually fall within the strategic plan.

What is your office doing to try to get more Lesotho players playing in leagues abroad such as South Africa?
That is the challenge we have – we are yet to find a pathway to ship our talent. You will realise at the moment it is individuals who may help by taking a certain player (for trials) and helping him. We have a player (Tšepang Makapa of Liphakoe) who passed trials at (South African premier league side) Golden Arrows. After a long time he is one of the successful ones.
One of the things that may work in the players’ favour is when you have a performing national team; it becomes the avenue or the vehicle that becomes a market on its own.

Luciah Phahla

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Moerane signs for Orbit

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CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe made a bold statement during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire that this tournament will go down as the best in the history of the beautiful game.

The tournament has indeed lived up to those expectations as it reaches the quarter-final stage. The continental showpiece has entertained us with everything that every football fanatic would expect from a big continental tourney like the AFCON.

His decision to join Orbit FC ends months of speculation where he was linked with several clubs in South Africa in both the Premier League and Motsepe Foundation Championship.

The Mazenod-born goalkeeper had been the centre of attention after years of impressive displays playing for his country in various competitions.

Moerane had not only been a hit in Southern Africa, where in 2023 he was named the Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the COSAFA Cup, but had also been given standing ovations in countries like Cote D’voire and Nigeria, where Likuena surprised the continental powerhouses.

The goal-minder was also the 2022/2023 Vodacom Premier League Goalkeeper of the Season adding that he was sad to leave the police outfit, who had been on an impressive run in the current season.

LMPS remains the only team that is still unbeaten in the league.

“This has been a challenge I have been looking forward to and I’m very happy that it has finally come true,” Moerane said after his arrival in South Africa.

“I know that it will not be easy as I come to a new country, new team, new teammates and new coach, which I all have to win over to trust me as their new player.”

Moerane is adamant the presence of experienced Likuena teammate, Tshwarelo Bereng, who is a journeyman and is well respected, will help him settle down quickly at his new club.

“He is a very experienced and respected player, whose presence at the club, I have no doubt will help me settle down quickly at this club,” he said.

“This is a new chapter of my career, where I need to start all over and make a legacy like I did during my time with LMPS.

“I have been preparing myself for some time now and I think I’m mentally and physically ready for this new challenge,” he said.

Moerane said the First Division will be a good stepping stone for him to make a name for himself in South Africa.

“I’m happy with the move to the First Division, it’s a good platform for me to make a name for myself and I believe I will still get to the bigger league or clubs, but it has to go through the right channels,” he said.

The agency that represents the player, Opus Sports Group with renowned football administrator Chris Bullock as the managing director, stated that they felt the first division was a good platform for Moerane to gradually grow into South African football.

“The move was about Moerane taking the next step of his career. He will get a good opportunity to get exposure at a good NDF club and if he does well, it will be a chance for him to progress further,” Bullock said.

“We liked how Orbit conducted themselves throughout and their vision for Sekhoane too and I think everyone is on the same page.

“It’s now up to Sekhoane to work hard and perform the way we know he is capable of and the rest will take care of itself,” he said.

Bullock also expressed gratitude to LMPS FC for allowing Moerane, who was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant, to leave the country for greener pastures.

Mikia Kalati

 

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Manonyane boss blames injuries for poor run

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Manonyane head coach Mosholi Mokhothu has blamed injuries for his side’s poor Vodacom Premier League campaign.
After a promising 2022/23 season in which they won two of their final four games and finished 11th, Manonyane have taken a major step back and find themselves languishing in 14th place.

The Roma side haven’t won a league match since a 1-0 win over Machokha on November 18, a run of nine games that includes five losses.
Manonyane have been so bad, in fact, that they haven’t scored a goal in all three games they have played since the turn of the year.
Their poor form has, unsurprisingly, dragged them firmly into the relegation picture.

Manonyane are four points above 15th-placed CCX who occupy the final relegation place, and the Roma side are in real danger of relinquishing the coveted top-flight status they gained in 2020.
Mokhothu pointed to Manonyane’s lengthy injury list as the reason for their struggles.

Thabang Tsakajoe (midfield), Bokang Matobo (striker), Molise Masoabi (midfield) and Bakoena Mosola (fullback) are all injured while Moraphate Nkejane has only recently returned to training.

All five players are key and their absences have hurt a squad that doesn’t have great depth.

“(After the injuries) it became difficult to use the available players in positions they do not play,” Mokhothu said.
The former Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service mentor admitted Manonyane have to turn the corner quickly.
“We are at the point where we are fighting for a win in every game,” he said.

“We are trying to not put the players under pressure (but) we are in a risky position now, we are now discussing how we can move up the table,” he added.
Having won the league with Lioli and LCS, Mokhothu has experience of what it takes to navigate the challenges of a season. He said Manonyane’s improvement needs to start on Sunday when they host Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) who haven’t had the best of seasons themselves.

The army side, who finished third last season, are in ninth place with 22 points from 12 games and have fallen short of their own pre-season expectations.
“I believe starting from this coming week; we will work hard on winning game after game,” Mokhothu said.

“It might happen that we win or draw in those games but, most importantly, we want to see if our results are pushing us up (the league table) or not,” he said.
He said the team plays well but do not have enough knowledge of how to score goals, something that was evident in their latest blank last Sunday when they lost 1-0 to LCS.
“Last season, we were creating many chances, even if we lost some of the games but we were still converting them unlike the LCS game. On Sunday, most of my attacking players were not there so I ended up making forced changes because of the situation,” he said.

Mokhothu said the LCS game taught him valuable lessons about his players, however.
“We saw who can play where and where some (players) need assistance and I am pleased that if they can hear me out, we can change our way of playing and results,” Mokhothu said.

For that to happen, the club’s supporters will also play a big role, he added.
“The players really need the supporters, so they should always show up and give (the players) hope,” Mokhothu said.
“It is true that the supporters are supporting us with crying hearts but I promise them that, one day, they will get what they expect.”

Relebohile Tšepe

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Afcon lives up to expectations

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CAF President Dr Patrice Motsepe made a bold statement during the opening ceremony of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire that this tournament will go down as the best in the history of the beautiful game.
The tournament has indeed lived up to those expectations as it reaches the quarter-final stage. The continental showpiece has entertained us with everything that every football fanatic would expect from a big continental tourney like the AFCON.

In the last edition of the tournament held in Cameroon, I was able to put my head on the block from the word go that the Terranga Lions, as the Senegal national team is popularly known, would go all the way, which they did as they were crowned champions after defeating Egypt on penalties.

I have tried to do the same with this tournament and I must confess, it was very difficult to make a prediction as to who will walk home champions when the tournament ends on February 11.

At the completion of the group stage, a lot of people had their money on the defending champions Senegal and Morocco, who looked unmatched in the group phase as each won all their games.

Fast forward to the last 16, both countries were eliminated by Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa respectively. Worse for Cote d’Ivoire, their tournament looked to be over when in their last match of group stage, they suffered a humiliating a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Equatorial Guinea, who everyone regarded as minnows.

That was the biggest defeat suffered by AFCON hosts but the Elephants were thrown a lifeline into the round of 16 qualifiers as one of the four best-third placed finishers.
The Ivorian FA didn’t waste time and sacked Frenchman, Jean-Louis Gasset, which didn’t come as a surprise to me as the Elephants were not convincing at all during his spell in charge of the West African country.

I managed to watch his team closely as they played against Likuena in the qualifiers. During the first leg played at the Dobsonville Stadium, the two countries played out to a goalless draw while in San Pedro, the Elephants secured a narrow 1-0 victory.

Former Ivorian international Emerse Fae was tasked with the responsibility of saving the sinking ship of the Elephants, a job he did with aplomb as the hosts fought their way back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw against defending champions, Senegal taking the last 16 tie to penalties, where they won 5-4.
I must say the Elephants looked a different side to the one I saw under Gasset as Fae got them firing to stun the defending champions, who have since packed their bags and gone home.

Cote d’Ivoire were indeed very lucky as the same cannot be said of the likes of Ghana and Algeria, among the big guns sent packing in the group stages of the tournament.
The poor performance of the Black Stars and the Dessert Foxes led to both Chris Hughton and Djamel Belmadi agreeing to step down as the coaches of the West and North African countries respectively.

Morocco is another country that was tipped to contest for the AFCON title, but they also failed to come to the party in their last 16 encounter.
Bafana Bafana won the match 2-0 to book a place in the quarter-finals.
Bafana Bafana have proved a hoodoo for Morocco, who many people thought would win the continental showpiece after their exploits at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, where they became the first African country to reach the semi-finals.

Their struggle against Bafana Bafana is nothing new as it dates to the days of former African Footballer of the Year, Mustafa Hadji.
Bafana Bafana’s opponents in the quarter-finals, Cape Verde, have been the surprise package of the tournament. The Blue Sharks’ remarkable journey in Cote d’Ivoire saw them win a group that had both Egypt and Ghana.

They have since inked a milestone in the history of their country winning a knockout match for the first time after beating Mauritania to set up a showdown against South Africa in the quarter-finals.
Mauritania themselves punched above their weight to have made it to the last 16 at the expense of a powerhouse like Algeria, who they beat 1-0 in the group stage. I have been impressed by their coach, Amir Abdou, who is making a name for himself as one of the best coaches in the continent having achieved a similar feat with Comoros in the previous edition of the tournament.

The one team that was under the microscope going into the tournament for unconvincing performances is Nigeria.
They eliminated Cameroon in the last 16. Their talisman Victor Osimhen has lived up to the billing of having recently been crowned African Footballer of the Year.
He has been the main man for Nigeria so far in the tournament by not only scoring goals, but also providing assists. His attitude and commitment in the field of play has been second to none.

I must say, the Super Eagles looked ordinary without Osimhen as they struggled to get their groove in matches played before AFCON where they were held by Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa have all looked very solid in their last 16 matches and I have a feeling they all have a very good chance of making it to the semi-finals. My gut feeling tells me that the AFCON trophy is going to remain in West Africa with Nigeria or Cote d’Ivoire winning it.
I really think that they tournament has lived up to expectation both on and off the field. Credit goes to the continental football body CAF under the leadership of Patrice Motsepe and Cote d’Ivoire as the host country, for putting so much effort to make the tournament a success.

To the government of Lesotho, this is yet another lesson of how football can be powerful when it has the support of its government as witnessed with countries like Mauritania and Cape Verde, who were deemed as minnows but are making strides in major continental competitions.
I have managed to visit some of these countries as well as others like Comoros, who have also qualified for AFCON tournament in recent years. Their governments have invested hugely in football infrastructure hence they are able to go pound for pound with some of the best in the continent.

Mikia Kalati

 

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