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Notši says raring to go

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MASERU – New Linare boss Leslie Notši says he is raring to go as he takes on a new challenge in his coaching career.

Notši stepped down as Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) technical director last week after four years in the role and he returns to club coaching after leaving Kick4Life in 2018.

He was introduced to ‘Tse Tala’ supporters last Saturday when the side faced CCX in a Vodacom Premier League encounter in Hlotse.

His appointment has sparked huge excitement around Linare and Notši is set to be with the club for the next three years in an attempt to bring silverware to the success-starved district of Leribe.

The last time Linare won the league was in 1980 and they have not won any major trophy since 1999.

Notši’s signing is a coup for the ambitious club which is desperate to end their trophy drought and he replaces Orlando Pirates legend Tebogo Moloi who arrived from South Africa in 2021 with similar high hopes.

Notši’s coaching career started in 1992 and he has not seen his new club lift a league trophy while he has coached and this is the battle he is facing.

Linare are hoping his pedigree with top clubs such as Matlama, Lioli and Kick4Life will come to the rescue.

Notši’s exploits are even greater with the national teams. Notši famously guided Lesotho’s Under-20 side to the 2011 CAF African Youth Championship which is one of only two times the country has qualified for a continental tournament.

Notši then coached Likuena from April 2011 until December 2013 during which he helped set the stage for Lesotho’s highest-ever FIFA ranking of 105 which it achieved in August 2014.

Notši has also guided Lesotho to the semi-finals of the COSAFA Cup twice, and is the only coach to do so.

In his last job in the Premiership, he took a mid-table team Kick4Life and turned them into a fearless team and was rewarded with a top four finish in 2017.

With Notši, Linare are not only getting a respected coach that has been tried and tested, but they are also getting someone who can be a father figure which is sometimes what the players need.

Notši is not known as an authoritarian but he commands respect from players and his peers in the game, and for him nobody is a lost cause. Notši sees good in everyone and believes every player can play a part and improve in his team.

Perhaps that comes with the experience of dealing with different characters which allows him to
approach each situation on its merit.

Whether it is a player misbehaving or underperforming, Notši believes the best remedy is to sit down and talk with the player to understand the situation.

It explains why he has been able to maintain good relations with his former players and even employers.

On Monday, the 58-year-old mentor took charge of his first training session with the Linare players.

He said he has been impressed with their qualities and the positivity amongst players has been brewing.

Notši and his coaching staff have the whole week to build up to the Machokha game on Saturday and that will be his first game in charge.

Notši joins Linare in the middle of the first round which means he has not had a preseason to prepare or a chance to bring in his own players.

However, he does arrive to find the team has already been prepared by the previous coach, Tebogo Moloi, and his assistants continued after his departure.

The congested nature of this season also means Linare still have all possibilities available to them.

Although they are in eighth place, Linare, with 12 points, are only two behinds top spot.

The last time Notši coached a club was in 2018 at Kick4Life and he left to join LEFA as technical director. As one would imagine, Notši said he missed getting stuck in with the players on a daily basis but he described his time at LEFA as a sabbatical where he got involved in conducting football, learning new things and engaging with colleagues from other countries.

Notši said he had conversations with Serame Letsoaka who coached South Africa’s national youth teams before he had a stint as technical director of the South Africa Football Association.

“I have been coaching since 1992 and I have been involved with the junior teams all the way.

“I have coached Matlama, Lioli, Kick4Life and you do miss club coaching and working with the players.

“When I was speaking with colleagues such as ntate Serame Letsoaka, he was also a (technical director) and he said he does miss it, it’s not easy,” Notši said.

“That time out is like a sabbatical where you are learning and refreshing your football knowledge,” he said.
While at LEFA, Notši was often asked to help with the national team so he was not totally out of coaching and he never closed the door on returning to club coaching.

He said he feels now is the right time to return.

“It’s not going to be easy because I am coming while the season has already started but it’s the right time.

“We want to have a good team and a good competitive league that will help the national team coach to have (good) players,” Notši said.

“The coach (Tebogo Moloi) has done a good job and for me it is just to add value and make the team competitive, working together with the management including the supporters,” he said.

Speaking ahead of the weekend’s game, Notši said Machokha have been improving from a difficult start to the season.

The newly-promoted Machokha are in sixth place and Notši said his team will have to be offensively and defensively sound.

He said Linare need to create and score as many goals as possible and enter the opposition’s final third at all times.

“They have improved and we will approach them carefully and make sure we are sound defensive and offensive wise,” Notši said.

“We must try to avoid conceding an early goal and create many opportunities to score by entering their final third a lot, and our strikers will have to be clinical with the chances.”

Tlalane Phahla

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