Lesotho national team coach Veselin Julisic has attributed Likuena’s poor performances to his failed tactics.
The Likuena mentor was addressing journalists following the team’s poor showing in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
Likuena was dumped out of the biennial competition after losing 2-0 at home to Zambia last Sunday.
The loss effectively ended Likuena’s chances of qualifying for AFCON, as it remained rooted to the bottom of Group H with just one point from four matches.
Likuena began its AFCON qualifier campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Comoros, followed by a promising 1-1 draw against Ivory Coast last June.
It then lost two back-to-match matches against Zambia’s Chipolopolo, which currently tops group H.
Last Sunday’s match represented Likuena’s last chance to qualify for AFCON for the first time ever.
With Ivory Coast hosting the 2023 AFCON finals, it meant they automatically qualify for the games, and that only one other spot was up for grabs for Lesotho, Comoros and Zambia to fight for.
Zambia looks on course to claimed that spot, with two more matches still to be played to complete the qualifiers.
Addressing the media on Wednesday this week, Julisic said he was sorry that his plan did not work.
“I am sorry to Basotho as well as all the football fraternities for all this negative results, it is all my fault and I take full responsibility,” Julisic said.
“Unfortunately my plan did not happen simply because the opponent was strong and better. As for whether I will be reigning I will respect any decision that comes from Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Executive Committee but for now I am going to work on the challenges facing our team.”
He further said the difference in the quality of Likuena players and those of its opponents especially Zambia was clearly visible.
“In my opinion two days between the matches were not enough to rest and prepare for the next match for full recovery so we did not perform at the level we wanted.”
Julisic said they had to adopt a defensive approach combined with counter attacking because Likuena’s performance level does not allow them to hold the ball for a long time.
He further said some of their important players like Motebang Sera and Mkhwanazi were unable to play due to injury, and that worked against the team. Tswarelo Bereng, who scored Likuena’s goal against Zambia in the first match, was unavailable in the second match due to suspension.
“In the second match, we had only Makateng as an international player but he still does not have much exposure to play while the Zambian site had 15 overseas players of which nine of them play in prominent European leagues including Patson Daka, who plays for Leicester City in the English Premier League.”
He also touched on the impact of playing their home matches outside the country. Setsoto stadium is currently banned from hosting official international matches by the confederation of Africa Football (CAF), due to its deteriorated condition.
“Before I come to Lesotho after signing the contract, I did not know that we cannot play our international matches in Lesotho so that alone affects the performance of the national team. In one year we played 15 matches of which 14 matches we played outside of Lesotho then one we played here at Bambatha Tsita Sports Arena so it is not the same playing the home matches in front of few hundreds of people while the opponents have more supporters,” “In the 15 matches we played, we have won five matches, we drew six matches and lost four matches including these of Zambia. I think this results are not bad under the current circumstances of Likue