MASERU –– Tomorrow Lesotho play Malaysia –– the side’s first game since the sacking of Zaviša Milosavljevic as coach last week.
The Serbian’s assistant Leslie Notši has taken over the reins on a temporary basis and will oversee Likuena until the conclusion of the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Zimbabwe next month.
As with any new regime the match in Malaysia will be seen as a fresh start, a chance to turn a new leaf after a disappointing 16 months for Likuena.
Indeed several noteworthy changes can already be seen from the team selection.
Notši’s first selection sees the inclusion of three new caps, LMPS strikers Bokang Mohasi and Mokhethi Matšora, both of whom are being rewarded for their performances in the recent MGC Supa 8 tournament, and Lioli defender Brown Makobe, a vital component in Lioli’s championship victory last season.
Also called-up is Linare captain Molefi Mosebo – recalled to the squad after three years in exile, while there are also welcome returns for Bokang Mothoana and Moitheri Ntobo who have both not featured for the national team since last October.
Those dropped include LDF striker Lire Phiri and Lioli goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane. Nyakhane Nyakhane, Thapelo Mokhehle and Motlalepula Mofolo have all been dropped because of ill-discipline.
So is this then the proverbial fresh start?
Not so according to Notši.
“No I wouldn’t say it’s a new start, it’s a continuation of the processes we had started under coach Zaviša,” he told the Lesotho Times before the team’s departure on Monday.
“He has had a huge role in the building of this team and his dismissal came as a shock (because) we were in the process of building something. As supporters we have to understand that building a team is not an overnight job.”
Tomorrow’s game is the second time Lesotho makes a trip to Asia. Likuena went on a tour of Myanmar in late 2007 losing 1-0 to the hosts before beating Laos 3-1. One criticism under Milosavljevic was the side’s defensive approach.
“Definitely, that’s a priority. We have to look at the type of football that suits our players and region and find a way of playing that,” Notši said of tomorrow’s game.
“At the same it is good preparation for the COSAFA Challenge, actually we would like to get one or two matches after this game. It is good for us to play a side from Asia to see just how we will fare and determine the loopholes in our team,” he continued.
Notši also insisted that the side wasn’t inexperienced.
“Three quarters of this squad have international experience, they have either played in qualifiers or international friendlies. The players know too that our country’s pride is at stake,” Notši said. “At this moment it is not only about getting a win it’s also about gaining exposure. So we get the picture of where we are.”
Likuena will also have Mothoana and Ntobo back in action.
“It’s a big boost they have brought the experience that they have gained, not only that but they are very good players” Notši said.
Notši also said he believed recent incidents of ill-discipline were not a problem in the team. “It is not a culture and it’s not only happening in Lesotho. But we have to help and teach them that if they really want to succeeded and to play for their country they should be professional. We should not just discard them,” Notši said.
Asked whether his promotion from assistant coach made it easier to settle in, Notši said: “It’s still a challenge. I believe in football every day is a challenge. The players have to come from training having learnt something. It’s a big challenge. I know that I have to deliver.”
If Likuena do play well, Notši may get the job on a fulltime basis. But he said he is just focusing on his next two assignments.
“I’m just concentrating on this friendly,” Notši said.
“I’m happy with the squad, I’ve tried to have a balance in the team, so that if a particular tactic is not working we can change our style of play,” Notši added.
Likuena squad to face Malaysia:
Goalkeepers: Sam Ketsekile (LCS), Lekunutu Tšoeunyane (LMPS)
Defenders: Thabo Masualle, Brown Makobe (Lioli), Nkau Lerotholi (Matlama), Khoto Sesinyi, Mpitsa Marai (both LCS)
Midfielders: Moli Lesesa (Joy), Bushy Moletsane (Lioli), Molefe Lekoekoe (LDF), Molefi Mosebo (Linare), Ramashalane Taeli (LCS), Bokang Mothoana (unattached)
Strikers: Mokhethi Matšora, Bokang Mohasi (both LMPS), Sello Muso (Lioli), Thapelo Tale (Likhopo).