Tuesday Sep 03, 2019. 13:00
New Lesotho coach Thabo Senong was only appointed last week and has barely had any time to prepare for Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in Bahir Dar.
But he was in an optimistic mood when he spoke to Africanfootball.com about the first leg tie and his new appointment
Congratulations on the new job in charge of Lesotho but you haven’t had have much time to get ready for your first game on Wednesday?
It is a strange situation but also very exciting. I’m very happy obviously but the fortunate part obviously is that I’m chasing time. We are in camp already and I’m just glad that I’ve got a very good coaching staff who have been there before and, of course, I know all the players, I know their clubs, I know their backgrounds and I’ve watched most of their (past) important games so I think that has accelerated my adaptation inside the team set up.
So then you don’t feel totally inadequately prepared for the meeting with Ethiopia?
“We will only have had four training sessions before the game but I don’t want to make excuses. Our intention is to do well in this match, get a draw. A win would be a definite bonus. But it cannot be that we lose the game because the coach has joined the team late. My wish with his group of players is to give them the opportunity to qualify for the group stage of the World Cup qualifiers because it will give them an added six international matches. My aim with Lesotho football is to help the team qualify for a continental tournament but also increase the number of players playing in the professional league in South Africa and maybe even one in Europe. You can only do that if you play a lot of international games and so it will be important for us to beat Ethiopia so that we can also qualify for play a lot more games in the future?
Lesotho are in the group stages for the next Africa Cup of Nations and you must stand a much better chance there?
“Exactly, exactly. We are in Group L. We have to be careful with Benin, who had a good run at the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Sierra Leone are really trying to improve their football also while Nigeria are a powerhouse. We just have to plan but I believe we’ll have a very good run in the group in order to qualify for the Cup of Nations because that is our greatest project at the moment and our greatest ambition in the team set up.”
What sort of game are you looking to play against Ethiopia on Wednesday?
“Look it’s going to be a packed stadium and Ethiopia are a possession based team. They like to dominate the possession, control the game and such. We will want to capitalise on their mistakes. We’ve been working on our defensive structures, just to be a little bit disciplined, but when we have the ball I will continue to encourage the freedom that the Lesotho boys have because they are very good on the ball. I was teaching them how to respect space, how to structure themselves when they defend and working on set pieces. That’s how we want to make sure we don’t conceded, with our defensive organisation and structure disciplined, because we are away and the odds are against. For me I think it’s a first half and the second half will be in Lesotho, where we will have lots of advantage.”