THE Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) is yet to hand Likuena coach, Moses Maliehe, a new contract after the expiry of his one-year deal in December 2017.
This is a bit of a surprise that LeFA has not given the coach a new contract and it’s been three months since his previous deal expired.
I am surprised because the association had declared publicly their satisfaction with the performance of the senior national team under Maliehe last year and one would have expected them to have handed him a new deal already.
In fact, the team has done fairly well since Maliehe took over from Seephephe Matete reaching the quarterfinals of the regional COSAFA Cup in Namibia, 2016 paving the way for the team to be given a reprieve the following year to begin the competition in the knockout stages.
They did well again in 2017 where they defeated 2015 winners, Namibia, in the quarterfinals, but would go down to Zimbabwe 4-3 in the semi-finals which ended Lesotho’s dream of reaching the final of the regional competition since 2000.
Likuena got their revenge against Zimbabwe, beating them 1-0 in an international friendly match, to end 2018 on a high.
The team also did fairly well in the opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations playing a 1-1 draw away to Tanzania.
Lesotho is in this group alongside side the two East African countries, Tanzania and Uganda, as well as their next opponents in Cape Verde.
The match against Cape Verde was initially scheduled for March, but has since been moved to September after five African representatives at the 2018 World Cup in Russia requested for time to focus on the global showpiece without distraction. Confederations of Africa Football accepted the request.
If it was not for the five countries requesting for the postponement of the continental qualifiers, Likuena would by now be hard at work preparing for the game against Cape Verde.
It is for that reason that I feel it would be in the best interest of the national team for LeFA to have finalised the contract of the coach in order for him to focus on the task at hand.
There is no doubt that the positive start in the AFCON qualifiers has given all of us hope that Likuena has a chance of qualifying for the continental competition for the first time.
The fact that two teams will be qualifying from this group makes our chances even better and it is also important for LeFA to get the coach’s contractual issues out of the way in time.
This would make it easy for Maliehe to put all his focus on the preparations for the continental competition without thinking about his pending future as the coach of the national team.
Anyone in his position would be unsettled by this situation and LeFA has to make a decision about it as soon as possible to make life easy for the Likuena coach.
At the same time, if the association is having second thoughts about the coach, then they should make an announcement.
I think it is really unfair to the coach that it has been three months since his contract expired and nothing has been decided.
This habit of doing things at the eleventh hour should come to an end because it has proved costly in the past.
The players have, on more than one occasion, been stuck at airports after LeFA failed to apply for VISAs on time for the team travel without any problems.
We all remember when in 2013 Likuena arrived in Ghana less than four hours before the match and the team was walloped 7-1 by the Black Stars due to fatigue.
LeFA must be professional, which I have no doubt all the clubs in our top flight league will emulate.
National team coaches should be given the respect they deserve not only when it comes to their contract, but all the resources that they need in order for them to do their assignments properly.
Still on the same topic, it has been widely speculated that the coaches of the two top premier league teams, Bantu and Lioli, are being paid higher salaries than the national team coach.
In my view, being the coach of the national soccer team on the land should be the highest paying job on the land. This would ensure that the coach is self-sufficient and in turn LeFA can demand result.
For success, we have to be ready to pay an arm and a leg without compromise. Only when the job carries that dignity can we expect reasonable results from our national soccer team.