As Coach Senong’s charges are thrashed 5-0 in Mozambique
MASERU – A 5-0 drubbing in the hands the Mozambican Os Mambas has earned the Lesotho senior national team, Likuena, a few new enemies. Likuena lost the Mozambican national team in a friendly match away in Maputo on Wednesday, as part of preparation for the upcoming COSAFA Cup set to take place in South Africa next month.
Some local football coaches are annoyed by the shabby performance the team has dished since its South African mentor, Thabo Senong, took the reins, saying a 5-0 whipping is a disgrace to the country – regardless of the nature of the fixture. “This is a humiliation,” said former Jomo Cosmos, LDF FC and Likuena goalkeeper, Motlalepula Sepipi. “The Mozambique team has humiliated us.”
Sepipi further said: “I don’t know what could have gone wrong. Maybe this is because of the Coronavirus lockdown which saw sporting activities suspended from January until last month.” However, Sepipi said the local coaches who have been at the helm of the national team previously were far better than the imported Senong in terms of coaching.
“Our local coaches were trying their level best and there was a difference. We didn’t lose like we do now.” Sepipi also hinted that Likuena’s poor performance may be a sign that there’s something wrong with the country’s football administration.
Former FC Likhopo and Lioli coach, Retšelisitsoe Lephaila, also labelled the Mozambique loss a shameful display and the reputation of local football fraternity and the country as a whole.
“To be honest, that performance is a shame to the nation,” said Lephaila in an interview yesterday. “I don’t like to criticize other coaches but honestly speaking I think coach Thabo Senong really needs some self-introspection.”
Lephaila further said: “..I am saying because if we managed a 5-0 loss in preparation for the COSAFA Cup it means we are not serious.” Lephaila said it’s a waste of money and time for a national team to play away from home and lose with such a margin.
“I think coach Senong should give justifications for this performance this time around. It is true that when you play friendly matches you play them with different objectives, and we are not his team could not have lost…because as a coach you need to build combinations and give other players an opportunity.
But Likuena are a senior national team, they are the country’s pride.” Lephaila said the Mozambique defeat was likely to demoralize the team ahead of the COSAFA Cup. “This is going to demoralize us. We should not go to friendly games with a mentality that it doesn’t matter if we lose.”
Lephaila said since Lesotho is not a football power-house, the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) and Senong should take COSAFA Cup very serious.
“I think coach Senong should have not have played these friendly games from the beginning (against Mozambique and eSwatini) without players like Tumelo Khutlang and others who ply trade outside the country because at the end of the day they are the players he needs most (for the COSAFA Cup).”
Lephaila said: “Because at the national team is not where you test players. But we need results because we have been humiliated enough and this is bad.”
Former Lioli, LCS and Lesotho Under-23 national team player, Ramashalane Taeli, holds a view that the Likuena team which lost to Mozambique was totally a different team.
“Likuena was completely a different team yesterday. Coach Senong has always been playing a 3-5-2 formation but yesterday he played a 4-3-3,” said Taeli. “I think he was trying something new, especially because he didn’t have that much pressure since it was a friendly game.”
Taeli further said: “Again, there were so many changes with players like Tau Masiu, Tšoanelo Koetle, Litšepe Marabe and others.”
Taeli also indicated that compared to other countries, Lesotho is lags behind as far as football is concerned, adding “but the truth is that compared to other countries we are still behind as far as football is concerned. So I think it is better for us when we play a little bit defensive formation because we are better when we play behind the ball.”
Senong has failed to guide Likuena even to a single victory since he took over as the team’s head coach in September, 2019. Likuena only played draws and losses under Senong until today. The team plays another friendly match against eSwatini tomorrow, also in Mozambique. The friendly match is also in preparation for the upcoming COSAFA Cup.