MASERU — Makoanyane XI coach, Moses Maliehe, has called the strongest possible squad as the Lesotho national Under-20 team prepares to shine during the December regional Cosafa youth tournament to be staged in the country.
The Lesotho youth team mentor told this paper that his team started their preparations on Monday and has a squad of 25 players in camp.
“I’m happy with what I have seen so far from the team and they are also aware of what is expected of them as the host nation for the tournament,” Maliehe said.
He told this paper that he started in June with a group of 33 players that he trimmed to 25 and further pruning to a 20-man squad is imminent before the December tournament.
“A lot will be expeced from this group of players and it is important that I remain with those that I feel have the experience to do the country proud during the tournament.
Maliehe was part of the Makoanyane XI technical team that helped the youth side qualify for the Caf African championship in 2011.
The youth team mentor said he had spotted about five youngsters during the high school Copa Coca-Cola tournament, but feels those players still lack international exposure.
But he noted that they are the players for the future.
Montoeli Sonopo, Tsebang Lebata, Mafa Moremoholo and Sepiriti Malefane are the only surviving members that played in the last regional tourney held in Botswana two years ago.
The former Lioli player said he has released Lioli and Bantu players to train with their respective teams ahead of the the weekend’s Independence Top4 tournament.
“I’m confident that with the time we have, we will manage to put the team in good shape so that they do our country proud,” said Maliehe.
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“We have been struggling to make it past the group stages of this regional tournament in the past years, but that has to change because we are playing in front of our supporters,” he said.
“The challenge is very huge, but at the same time I have seen the willingness from the players to make history at home,” said Maliehe.
He said the other challenge will be preparing his players mentally as they have to deal with the pressure of the home fans who will be demanding good results from the onset. The team will be in the Free State over the weekend to play a friendly match against Bloemfontein Celtic’s development side.
Maliehe said the Saturday match could also be a chance for his team to showcase their talent to international scouts as Celtic is expecting visitors from Portugal to watch the youngsters.
South Africa and Namibia are the latest nations to confirm their participation at the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships to be held in the country from December 3-14.
The duo submitted their decision to participate last Friday which was the deadline for countries to confirm their participation in the prestigious junior tournament.
Earlier last week, hosts Lesotho, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe all submitted their entries.
Friday, October 11 has been confirmed as the day for the draw for first round group stages of the competition. The host nation hosts the draw
Zambia are the current holders of the Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships having triumphed in the previous event staged in Botswana in 2011.
Makoanyane XI squad:
Sello Thetsane (Matlama), Mokhanya Mokhanya (Kick4Life), Sepiriti Malefane (Likhopo), Bokang Sello (Lioli), Mohau Rammoneng (Majantja), Motlomelo Mkwanazi (Matlama), Tsoarelo Mokoaleli (Majantja ), Thabang Rabi (Roller Stars), Maine Maine (Matlama), Montoeli Sonopo (Lioli), Tsebang Lebata (Bantu), Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Tokelo Majoro (Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Tumelo Khutlang (Likhopo) and Tseliso Ramathe (Qoaling Highlanders).