National team coach, Seephephe Matete, says he would be taking his strongest possible squad to next month’s Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament.
Matete on Monday told the Lesotho Times he had beefed up his initial squad by adding experienced defender Thabo Masualle and goalkeeper Kananelo Makhooane, to the team. America-based striker Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho could also be part of the team at the 17-31 May championship, where Lesotho have been pooled in Group B alongside Tanzania, Madagascar and Swaziland.
However, the veteran mentor said premier league top goal-scorer, Litšepe Marabe, remains side-lined from the team due to disciplinary issues.
According to Matete, Lesotho would be using the regional tournament as part of preparations for the 2015 African Nations Championship (CHAN), 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, hence the need to name his best side for the competition.
“We have been working on the logistics of bringing Tšotleho for the match and it looks like he will be part of the team that will be playing at the Cosafa tournament because we would want to get him ready for the Afcon qualifiers,” Matete said.
“I have also re-called Thabo Masualle of Bantu to strengthen our defence, while Likhopo’s Kananelo Makhooane has replaced injured Matlama goalkeeper, Makhetha Thakeli.”
Matete believes a good show at the Cosafa championship would boost the players’ confidence ahead of their Afcon Group J qualifiers against Algeria, Ethiopia, and the Seychelles, which begin in June this year.
“The team will go into camp this Friday and so far, things are going according to plan,” said Matete.
“The players have been coming for sessions three days a week, and responded well to training. Now we are working on getting all of them fully fit, especially those who have been struggling with injuries such as Lefty (Bokang Mothoana). He is one of the seniors in this team and very experienced as well. I feel if fully fit, he will play a critical role in these campaigns.”
Matete, meanwhile, admitted that the team would miss the services of retired former captain Moitheri Ntobo, as well as Basia Makepe and Tšepo Seturumane, who have not been playing football as they are undergoing police training.
- Advertisement -
“There is no doubt that we will miss Moitheri’s experience and leadership qualities, but life must go on and we have to groom a good replacement since we are in a rebuilding process,” said Matete.
“And of-course, we will miss the two players undergoing police training, but I have been told we might have them for the World Cup qualifiers which begin in July.”
Despite facing tricky opposition, Matete is confident Likuena would do well in the qualifiers.
“We will have to box smart; it’s going to be a tough journey which needs good preparations and I’m confident the intensive programme that we are going to have will help us,” he said.
Speaking about Marabe, Matete said it was important for players to respect national team call-ups.
“The matter is still under discussion, and a decision will be made in due course. But what the players should understand is that wearing your country’s colours is always an honour to any player, and that’s why you never forget your first call to the national team,” Matete said.
Matete also explained his team would play friendly matches against premier league sides or a pick of foreigners who turn out for local sides.
Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane, Kananelo Makhoaoane.
Defenders: Nkau Lerotholi, Jeremea Kamele, Nketsi Rankhasa, Motiki Mohale, John Mohai, Sepiriti Malefane, Lisema Lebokollane, Thabo Masualle.
Midfielders: Teboho Mota, Mabuti Potloane, Phaha Tšosane, Bokang Mothoana, Bushy Moletsane, Lekhanya Lekhanya, Hlompho Kalake, Tšoanelo Koetle, Mohau Rammoneng, Thabiso Mohapi.
Strikers: Thapelo Tale, Nkoto Masoabi, Tumelo Khutlang.