MASERU – The new Likuena assistant coach believes his appointment will play a big role in instilling confidence in the national team players ahead of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup.
The 43-year-old Shalane Lehohla says the experience he has as a former Likuena player is carries valuable lessons that he is prepared to share with the current crop, having played for the Lesotho national teams from the junior ranks to the senior team.
Lehohla has replaced his former teammate and coach at the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) FC, Mpitsa Marai, who was the assistant coach to the South African mentor, Thabo Senong, who quit recently.
Senong resigned last week, days after he trooped his charges into camp for the COSAFA games which have been scheduled to begin on July 6 to 18.
Likuena are set to begin their campaign against eSwatini in the opening match of the tournament next week Tuesday before taking on Zebras of Botswana three days later and the hosts, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on July 13 in their last match in Group A.
Lehohla is assistant to Leslie Notši who has been appointed as a caretaker coach after Senong’s resignation. Notši, who is not new to Likuena’s hot seat, currently works for the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) as technical director.
“To be honest, I was puzzled when I first got the news that I have been appointed Likuena’s assistant coach,” said Lehohla at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“But, fortunately, there is no good time for things to happen in football.” Lehohla further said: “So it is up to one to grab an opportunity when it comes their way and make a difference when they are expected to do so.
“I am saying this because I grew up playing football in Lesotho from a very young age, when I played for all the junior national teams until I played for Likuena.
“So, sometimes it is an opportunity for us to pass on the experience we got while we were still playing to other players,” Lehohla said.
He cited the example of Likuena’s opponents at the COSAFA Cup which are teams he used to play against in the same tournament during his playing time, saying in those days it was not a difficult task to play against such teams.
“But of late they are far better than us, that’s why I consider my appointment as an opportunity to be able to again give our players the confidence they need in games of this magnitude.”
He therefore said it is time for the Lesotho players to be confident and be ready to compete among the best players in the region.
Lehohla was a member of the Likuena team which made history by reaching the final of the COSAFA Cup in 2000, beating Zambia and Angola in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively before losing to Zimbabwe in the final.
He was playing alongside great players such as the late Eric Makara, Malefetsane Pheko and Lehlohonolo Seema, among others. Lehohla was previously assistant coach to Halemakale Mahlaha mentoring the national Under-17 national team Bahlabani.