MASERU – Veselin Jelusic, the just unveiled coach of the senior football national team, Likuena, will be forced to face the forthcoming 2023 AFCON Qualifiers battle with a Leslie Notši-selected squad, despite a personal mandate to qualify for the AFCON and reach the COSAFA Finals. The Serbian coach was presented as Likuena’s new coach on Tuesday this week by Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Secretary General, Mokhosi Mohapi.
Jelusic replaces Thabo Senong who resigned in June last year, just before the COSAFA Cup tournament which was held in South Africa. Notši was then appointed caretaker coach. Mohapi also announced on Tuesday that Notši will be working with Jelusic as transitional assistant coach.
Likuena face Seychelles in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) preliminary round, with the Seychelles hosting the first leg match of the preliminary round on March 21 in a game to be played at the Stad Linite, in Seychelles. “Our technical director, Leslie Notši, started working with the team and we will of course have to rely on the same players that have already been selected,” said Jelusic.
“Now what I can do within this short time before the first official game is to add some short details because this is not time for big changes, and also because that would be technically very wrong.” Jelusic further said: “I had meetings with our technical director, Notši, in the last two days and we have exchanged opinions about how we are supposed to continue to work.”
The Serbian mentor said this was because they should respect the Seychelles team. “We should respect our opponents and with this approach we are starting to prepare for those games.” Jelusic said he came to Lesotho very much aware that football was not professional in this country.
“I know that football in Lesotho is not professional and that at the moment we don’t have so many players abroad who are playing for the professional teams. So we must rely on our players that are available here.” Notši has been preparing the team for the Seychelles game since last month.
LeFA Secretary General, Mohapi, said Jelusic’s mandate is to guide Likuena to qualify for the AFCON tournament and the COSAFA finals. Mohapi said Jelusic has signed a two-year contract with LeFA, with an option of renewal. Likuena have never qualified for the AFCON before. The Lesotho team’s only achievement was reaching the final of the COSAFA Cup in 2000.
Jelusic is not new to coaching a national team. He was the coach of the Angola senior national team from 1989 to 1999 and the Botswana senior national team, Zebras, from 2002 to 2006. After leaving his role as Zebras coach, Jelusic began working in youth development for the Botswana Football Association (BFA)
The new Likuena mentor was also the coach of the former South African premiership side, Bloemfontein Celtic, from 2017 to 2018 and he was named the Absa Premiership Coach of the Month in October, 2017. He also coached the Zambian side, City of Lusaka, from 2020 to 2021. Jelusic is the second coach from Serbia to coach Likuena after Zavisa Milosavljevic, who coached the Lesotho team from 2007 to 2009.