4 June 2019

Lesotho: Mafoso Calls for More Friendlies

THE national under-20 soccer coach, Bob Mafoso, has called on the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) to organise more friendlies for his side as it prepares for the COSAFA tournament later this year.

Mafoso said this in an interview with the Lesotho Times earlier this week. He said friendlies would give exposure to his side, which is mainly made up of new players.

He said this in the wake of his side's return from eSwatini where they drew 1-1 on Saturday and edged their hosts 0-1 on Sunday.

He said he was happy with his side's performance in the two matches despite the fact that they had shady preparations.

"I am happy with the performance because the players tried their best to do what was expected of them," Mafoso said.

"In first match, we were just unlucky to have conceded but we played well."

Mafoso admitted that they still have a lot of work to do as they are still building a new team from the one which reached the 2017 COSAFA final where they lost to South Africa.

"There is still a lot of work to be done. This is a relatively new team because from the side which played last year's COSAFA, we have nine players left, so we have 10 new faces in the team."

Mafoso however, lamented that their biggest challenge is that the team is not getting adequate exposure as they are not playing regularly.

"I was appointed as the head coach of this team early last year but the first time we met as a team was in October while preparing for the under-20 COSAFA tournament where we got knocked out in the group stages despite being the finalists in the previous year.

"I took the blame as the coach but the fact is that we never got time to prepare that team. We never played even a single friendly which was a different case from the time when I was Ntate Leslie Notši's assistant coach. Our team which reached the finals in 2017 had thorough preparations, playing many international friendlies and the results were there for everyone to see. However now things are different and I don't know why," he said.

The frustrated Mafoso said they have to change the way they operate if they want to improve.

"We really need to change this mindset. We are already disadvantaged because our league is not up to par with others from the region, so we need to have enough time and prepare.

"We are not able to get players in time, secondly some of them are not regular in their teams meaning we have a lot of work to do. Compared to other countries, we are not good tactically, so we need to at least be physically strong but it's a problem because we are not getting enough time to prepare," Mafoso said.

On his part, LeFA National Teams Coordinator Seephephe Matete said it is not easy to prepare national teams as most local teams refuse to release players especially when it's not during the FIFA break.

"As LeFA, we don't have players, so we depend on clubs to provide players but sometimes it is not easy to get the players as clubs will refuse to release them especially towards the end of the season when they will be fighting to meet different targets.

"The national team coaches know that and I have told them also that they can't always have players. A week is enough for a national team coach to prepare a team because national teams don't train like clubs," Matete said.

The former Likuena coach said the only time when under-20 coaches will have players' full time is during the off-seasons and when schools are closed.

"They should draw their programmes in a way that it should allows them to have camps during off seasons and when schools are closed because even in the middle of the season, it's not easy to get friendly matches as other countries also are busy with their domestic leagues. So, I don't agree with the issue of lack of preparations. For me, it's just an excuse," Matete said.

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