National team coach, Seephephe ‘Mochini’ Matete, has revealed a busy programme that would see his charges participate in four competitions this year starting.
The schedule begins with the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament in South Africa from 17-31 May, followed by the African Nations Championship (CHAN) in July, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers (AFCON) in September as well as the 2018 World Cup qualifiers in November.
Matete on Monday said a 25-member squad had started training that day and would take on Botswana in Gaborone on 25 March and possibly Zimbabwe at Setsoto Stadium on 28 March, in friendlies as part of an intensive preparatory programme.
“We have a squad of 25 players that has started training today ahead of a busy year and each and everyone one of them has to fight to keep his place in the team,” Matete said.
“I have tried to balance youth and experience, hence we have nine players who were part of the under-20 set-up since 2013.”
Matete further said he had been scouting for Basotho playing outside the country and also planned to utilise America-based Jane Tšotleho, Napo Matsoso, Lepekola Seetane and Setho Moshoeshoe in the upcoming tournaments.
“Of course, this and many other things will depend on the Lesotho Football Association’s financial situation, especially flying the United States- based players for the matches.”
Meanwhile, the veteran mentor has asked for support from stakeholders to ensure the national team, Likuena, is adequately resourced for the pending competitions.
“The support should start with the Cosafa Cup, which I feel will prepare the team for next year’s CHAN, whose qualifiers begin in July while the draw takes place in June.
“Afterwards, we will be looking at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and 2018 World Cup, with the preliminary qualifiers expected to start in September and November respectively.
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“I believe a good performance in the regional Cosafa tournament, as well as the international friendly matches, can boost our position on the Fifa rankings so that we avoid preliminaries as much as possible.
“We will try to utilise all the Fifa friendly match dates and test as many players as possible in order to have a large pool of players.”
The Likuena coach also took time to defend the selection of longstanding first-choice goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, who has struggled for game-time at Lioli. The Lioli coaches have preferred Liteboho Mokhehle ahead of the veteran goalie.
“He is an experienced keeper who still has a lot to offer to his country,” said Matete.
The team, he added, is only training three days a week—from Monday to Wednesday—in order not to disrupt the league programme.
Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane, Makhetha Thakeli, Kholuoe Phasumane.
Defenders: Nkau Lerotholi, Jeremea Kamele, Nketsi Rankhasa, Motiki, Mohale, John Mohai, Sepiriti Malefane, Lisema Lebokollane.
Midfielders: Teboho Mota, Mabuti Potloane, Phaha Tšosane, Bokang Mothoana, Bushy Moletsane, Lekhanya Lekhanya, Teboho Lekhooa, Tšoanelo Koetle, Mohau Rammoneng, Makara Ntaitsane, Tumelo Khutlang.
Strikers: Thapelo Tale, Thabiso Brown, Litšepe Marabe, Morapeli Lesoetsa.