Heads crack on Maliehe’s dismal showing
MASERU – While the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) is anticipating how to seal the fate of Likuena head coach Moses Maliehe, football experts on the other hand are at loggerheads as to whether or not the mentor should be given the boot or a fresh mandate.
Maliehe’s directive had been to guide Likuena to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, the task he dismally failed to carry.
Likuena were within reach of writing history by qualifying for the AFCON competition for the first time.
But the team under the tutelage of Maliehe threw that momentous chance away when they instead settled for a goalless draw in their last tie of the qualifiers against Cape Verde away from home five weeks ago.
Maliehe’s charges required a slender 1-0 win over the West African islanders to realise their long-time dream of making it into the prestigious continental tournament.
Likuena went to Cape Verde tied on points (5) with Tanzania but lying on second place due to a head-to-head advantage after they beat the latter 1-0 at Setsoto Stadium in November last year.
Uganda, who had already qualified went to their last qualifying match on pole position while Tanzania were third placed with Cape Verde at the bottom of Group L.
“Given the momentum, I would say Maliehe should continue as the team’s coach even though his mandate was to guide Likuena to the AFCON tournament,” said former Likuena goalkeepers’ coach Teboho Sopeng.
“The reason I am saying this is because this was the first time in history that Likuena found themselves at that stage of their qualifying campaign. So, my point is that the team was this time around pretty close thanks to Maliehe.”
Sopeng said another reason for backing Maliehe to retain his post is because he believes there is no one out there fit enough to replace him right away.
Former LCS, Lioli and Bantu coach Katiso Mojakhomo also shared similar sentiments with Sopeng arguing that Maliehe worked particularly hard to see the team to the brink of the tournament.
“According to me, he has done a job better than any other coach who came before him,” he said.
On Maliehe’s failure to lead Likuena to the competition, Mojakhomo said it would be appropriate if all the reasons which drove the team to lose that one opportunity could be considered.
“For an example, LeFA executive claims it did everything possible for the team ahead of the Cape Verde match but then that was not the only game which could have seen us through to the AFCON competition,” Mojakhomo said.
Before the Likuena-Tanzania AFCON qualifying game in November last year, Maliehe said if his charges lost he would quit. However, Likuena won that tie (1-0) to save Maliehe’s job.
But other people argue that what Maliehe said then should be used against him now that he has failed to guide Likuena to the AFCON qualification.
They say there’s no need for him to talk about one match when the team needed to win more than once to make it through.
Mojakhomo, however, attributed Maliehe’s comments to his excitement for winning then.
“Things were proceeding well for him then, so we cannot tell what exactly drove him to say that.”
Former Likuena coach Monaheng Monyane, on the other hand said he won’t bother himself with Maliehe anymore, because he has failed his mandate.
“His mandate was clearly to qualify for the AFCON and he said it himself that he would quit if he failed to qualify,” Monyane quipped.
“So, we have now reached that moment, and in this case the question would be, who should remind him?”
Monyane, who remains the only coach to lead Likuena to the final of the COSAFA Cup in 2000, said he thought assistant coach, Mpitsa Marai, should be entrusted with the duty of being the new Likuena coach.
Marai has just been appointed Likuena coach for the CHAN qualifiers after Lesotho were drawn against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana two months ago.