This piece was first written last November after Likuena’s qualification for the group stage of 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying, thanks to a two-legged preliminary round win over Burundi.
Congratulations to Likuena for making it through to the group stage of 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying.
It is a notable achievement for national coach Leslie Notši and his players. It has put Lesotho amongst Africa’s top national teams, and also breathed life into local football. Likuena can look now forward to competing alongside Ghana, Zambia and Sudan for the right to make it through to the Fifa World Cup Finals in 2014, in Brazil.
However, this success doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels or even become big-headed. We shouldn’t fool ourselves thinking we can conquer the world.
This is just a start; a building block that has to be built upon.
The decision by the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) to suspend the senior team last year and focus on Lesotho’s national youth sides has so far been vindicated. But more now needs to be done to consolidate this progress.
For one thing Lesotho football won’t go anywhere while it’s still being played on potato fields. Players and supporters alike continue to decry this situation, which has remained unchanged for decades.
There also has to be more investment in grassroots football while talent identification has to start from schools.
And when this talent is identified it needs much better nurturing and monitoring.
Better management of the top-flight is also desperately needed, while clubs themselves need to work harder to improve their administration. On average Lesotho Premier League clubs are run on debt and are only kept afloat by well wishers. Players are not insured or paid, and have to fend for themselves.
All these factors snowball, resulting in Lesotho being left behind at the highest level by almost all countries in Africa.
This phenomenon illustrated by how Lesotho has always fared well in youth football but failed at senior level. This is because of the poor levels of the league, administration and facilities. Lesotho currently has a talented generation of players at its disposal and their talent has to be afforded a proper platform.
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It is time we began to seriously move towards semi-professionalism.
It is not like we don’t have the guidelines. The Mohale Declaration is there – signed and sealed by Lesotho’s club in 2008. But, over three years after its signing it’s hard to say Lesotho football has progressed in the way the roadmap intended it to. For example the Mohale Declaration says: “by 2014 all clubs will have consistently access to (or ownership of) developed training facilities that will by 2014 be fully provided and include turf, dressing rooms and training lights”… It is time we stopped paying lip service to vital aspects like this. And Lesotho has to use Likuena’s immediate success as a starting point.
Of course there are external of challenges, economic and demographic, which affect Lesotho football but most challenges can be overcome. The only thing that is needed is a more solemn approach by the Lefa. Security and improving facilities are just two aspects Lesotho which mostly require initiative.
What we have to realise is that Lesotho has fallen behind all its neighbours.
True leadership means being able to offer workable solutions to problems and being willing to offer new ideas. If something isn’t done now then this window of opportunity for Lesotho football will be missed, just as it was in 2000.
Molapo Sports Centre