MASERU — Makoanyane XI mentor Leslie Notši will be the new Likuena coach when the senior team returns, according to Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) president Salemane Phafane.
Phafane was speaking at a farewell dinner for the national Under-20 side at Lehakoe Club on Monday night.
Phafane said he was making the
declaration in his capacity as Lefa president.
Lesotho’s national team was disbanded early last year and hasn’t played a senior international match since their 1-0 win over Mauritius at the Cosafa Senior Challenge in October 2009.
Upon Likuena’s disbanding Lefa said it would focus instead on developing the Under-20 and Under-17 teams to prepare for a new and improved senior side.
The senior side was not registered for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
However, Likuena are expected to return to action sometime next year and according to Phafane applications for the coaching job are already closed.
“I declare publicly that Leslie Notši will not hand over the Under-20 team to somebody else (at senior level), we will promote him to be national team coach,” Phafane declared.
“When he took the job it was after a foreign coach had failed. There were challenges and questions, but you (Notši) have proved yourself.”
Previous Likuena coach Serbian Zaviša Milosavljević was sacked in September 2009 after an uninspiring 16-month spell in charge.
Notši, who served as Milosavljević’s assistant, has done a sterling job with the Under-20 side against the odds, qualifying them for the Caf African Youth Championship which begins on Sunday in South Africa.
He was also in charge of Lesotho at the 2009 Cosafa Senior Challenge in Zimbabwe and commanded a developmental team that played against Malawi to mark that country’s Republic Day celebrations last July.
Nevertheless, Phafane’s sudden announcement is still a surprise.
Phafane added that the Makoanyane XI players going to the Caf Youth Championship in South Africa would form the nucleus of the senior team when they return.
“I declare publicly tonight, when they come back they are the new national team,” he said. “This is the last time they play as the Under-20 side. They are the new Likuena.”
Phafane’s statements in the least confirm the impending end of Lesotho’s self-imposed exile that has seen the country fail to take part in the qualifiers for both the 2012 Olympic Games and the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Lefa boss though had a word of warning for the Under-20 team.
“If we are not happy with your performance we can reverse our decision, you know we are capable.”
The Makoanyane XI farewell gala was attended by Natural Resources Minister Monyane Moleleki and Tourism Minister ‘Mannete Ramaili, who was standing for the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation ‘Mathabiso Lepono.
Former principal secretary of sports Makalo Theko was also present to see the Makoanyane XI receive good-bye gifts from their main sponsor, Metropolitan Lesotho.
The Makoanyane XI left yesterday for the eight-team competition.
If the side progresses to the semi-finals they will qualify for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup in Colombia in July and August.
It would be a first for Lesotho and Phafane told the young side it was a chance of a lifetime.
“It’s now or never. Take it now or you will never get it again,” he said.