MASERU — Goal scoring has been Zavisa Milosavljevic’s biggest headache since he took charge of Likuena in April last year.
Lesotho have found scoring harder than living on Mars, finding the net just seven times in 14 games.
However the Serbian coach may have found the answer to his prayers in the form of Likhopo forward Thapelo Tale (pictured).
The 20-year-old has put his hand up as a possible solution after capping two terrific displays against Swaziland with a goal in the two sides’ first friendly last Friday.
Tale’s 74th minute goal — in his first start — was Likuena’s first for almost a year.
Two 1-1 draws away to a full-strength Sihlangu are heartening.
But it’s a measure of how well Likuena played that Tale, speaking to the Lesotho Times upon the team’s arrival back home, expressed disappointment at not having come away from Swaziland with a win.
“It is the same performance,” Tale said of his performance.
“I have been playing this way for the last couple of months.”
Indeed Tale’s weekend displays in the Likuena jersey have capped a successful 2008-09 campaign.
An injury-free season has allowed steady progress and Tale, whose pace and power almost single-handedly destroyed Matlama at Pitso Ground in April, is destined for greater things.
“We have had offers (from South African clubs) but it depends on school,” Tale said of a possible move across the border.
“At the beginning of the season I will be a Likhopo player, but I don’t know what will happen in January.”
However, whatever Tale’s short-term club future holds, it is with Likuena where he is needed the most and where he says his long-term ambitions lie.
“The spirit in the team is very good right now,” he said,
“Camping together and going to Lehakoe have really helped us.”
His brief partnership upfront with Lioli livewire Sello Muso is also blossoming — a welcome development with Lesotho still searching for their first consistent striking combination since Lebajoa Mphongoa and Teele Ntšonyana’s two-pronged attack at the turn of the century.
“I like to stick upfront, Sello is more of the one who likes to go and collect the ball,” Tale says, “We (Likuena) were more attacking and really we were way above Swaziland.”
The results of Likuena’s attacking approach offer hope to a team desperate to arrest a slide that has seen them become the seventh worst national team in Africa.
“What we need right now is that people support us,” Tale said. “The teamwork is very good and we are now getting along with the coach.”
Certainly coming home without defeat and with two goals in as many games is promising.
But as Tale admits what Likuena need to start doing is winning — Lesotho have not won an international game since last July.
“We need to start winning games because it’s like these days a draw is a win for us and that is not good,” he said.
Sadly though, with the COSAFA Senior Challenge Cup postponed as well as the lack of friendly internationals, Tale and his teammates look set to kick their heels.
“It (matches) is something that we want. We really need to have more games,” Tale said. “Right now we have been told to keep fit and keep going to Lehakoe until we meet for camp.”
“It’s always been my ambition to take Lesotho to greater heights,” Tale added.
Tale has definitely put himself forward to be Lesotho’s future number nine.