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Top coaches rally behind new Likuena coach

Business

Chris Theko

Some of the top coaches in the country have rallied their support to the newly appointed National Soccer coach Serbian Veselin Jelusic, who was unveiled at the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Headquarters this week.

Lioli Technical Director, Bob Mafoso said he hopes as a country they will be looking to see the success of the national team and that the new coach be given adequate administrative and technical support. 

“Based on his experience, I have a feeling that we are on the right track with coach Jelusic. In the country we don’t have the caliber of coach he is because no one has his experience having coached two countries and assisted in taking one to the African Cup of Nations (AFCON). I have learned that even Batswana speak very highly of him although he had a fallout with the FA then and left,” Mafoso said. 

For his part, former Likuena Coach Moses Maliehe who was the man at the helm of the senior national team between 2015 and 2019, also reiterated the issue of the team’s success. 

“We will have to give him the support from the administration and technical because as a new coach who already has a big assignment ahead of him, he will need all the support,” Maliehe said.      

The unveiling was done at the LeFA headquarters in Maseru where the Serbian vowed to use his qualifications and experience for the benefit of the country’s national soccer.

“I hope that my coaching qualifications and experience will help the Lesotho football national team to achieve what is asked,” Jelusic said. 

He said as far as implementing his philosophy, he will not be rushing into it as the time is limited before the immediate assignment. 

“I had a meeting with the Technical Director Leslie NotÅ¡i and we have been exchanging ideas on how we are going to carry on working because it is a very short time for both of us and there will not be time for big changes. What is important now is to prepare to face Seychelles,” he said.     

The Serbian has been at the helm of a number of African clubs, both at national and club level in countries like Angola, Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.

The new coach’s first assignment will be the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Qualifiers preliminaries which begin next month where Likuena will take on Seychelles. In the build-up to the clash, he will guide the team through a number of friendly matches against Botswana, eSwatini and Mauritius.   

Jelusic has been given a two-year contract with an option to renew while the current Likuena caretaker coach Leslie NotÅ¡i will be his assistant for the time being. 

He becomes the second Serbian to be appointed Likuena coach after Zavisa Milosavljevi, who was fired in 2009, just 18 months into his assignment. Milosavljevi was the second international coach Lesotho had as he came after German, Antoine Hey who coached Likuena from 2004 to 2006.   

According to LeFA Secretary General, Mokhosi Mohapi, Jelusic will not only be the man in charge of the senior men’s national but all the national men’s teams.   

“We are not only getting a coach for Likuena as we saw in various publications but more of a coach for the men’s national teams because the incumbent will oversee even the youth coaches in terms of the men’s teams,” Mohapi said.   

Mohapi explained that the association took its time to start the process of finding a new coach due to the fact that there was inactivity in the country where sports is concerned due to Covid-19. 

“There was no football, there were no matches to prepare for so we thought what would we be hiring a coach for hence after the previous coach’s resignation, we decided to hire a new coach when they time is right,” he said.

After whittling down its list of candidates from the initial 13, LeFA interviewed the final list of candidates on Tuesday last week via zoom. 

None of the applied local coaches made it to the last interviews but Mohapi said the chances are some may get other roles in the technical team.

Jelusic holds a UEFA A license and holds a Masters Degree as well as PhD in Physical Education from the University of Belgrade.  

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