Likuena lifeline for Kuenane
…As Maliehe keeps faith in COSAFA squad
LIKUENA goalkeeper coach Mohau Kuenane is set to return to the national team when the side hosts Cape Verde in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier next month.
This is amid indications by coach Moses Maliehe that he will put faith in the players who brought home a bronze medal in the COSAFA Cup in South Africa in June this year.
The match on 7 September will be Likuena’s second after the side drew 1-1 away to Tanzania in June 2017.
Maliehe said that he would give a lifeline to Kuenane who returns after a three years absence from the national team.
Kuenane last played for Likuena under Seephephe Matete, who was booted out from the post in 2015.
The veteran goalkeeper was last season on loan at Kick4Life from Lioli but is still club-less ahead of the new season.
“We will keep the bulk of the squad that played at the COSAFA Cup just like I said prior to the tournament that it would also serve as preparation for the match against Cape Verde,” Maliehe said.
“One of the changes in the team is that of Kuenane who has been training with the team. We are monitoring him to see if he can give us what we want.
“He has the experience we need going into such an important game but for now it is all about assessing his abilities to see if he still has what it takes to play at that level.”
The Likuena mentor said his squad will also include Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho of Phnom Penh Crown which is in the Cambodian League. The player failed to participate in the COSAFA Cup after his side refused to release him.
Maliehe is also confident the team will have the services of American based Lesia Thetsane, who was outstanding at the COSAFA Cup having earned his debut in the quarterfinals against Swaziland.
“As for Tšotleho, his team did not release him for the COSAFA Cup but will be available for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“Thetsane as well is in our plans and we are confident that his team will release him for the game. We have already engaged them in that regard,” Maliehe said.
He also confirmed that Tshwarelo Bereng, who failed to play at the regional competition, is now available for selection after finally acquired a Lesotho passport.
The midfielder was eligible for both Likuena and Bafana Bafana before he decided to play for Lesotho having lived most of his life in South Africa playing for All Stars, United FC, Moroka Swallows and Chippa United from 2013 to the 2017/18 season.
“His Lesotho passport was finally issued and he is now available to play for us after missing the COSAFA Cup,” he said.
The Likuena mentor also registered his fears for a negative impact of the premiership’s delayed start and said most players will likely struggle for fitness against Cape Verde.
“Fitness is a major concern for us. I am sure you have seen how most of them were struggling in the Alliance Winter Challenge. However, we will continue working to improve them.
“On the contrary though is the fact that since the players do not have commitments at their clubs, they are all available for training.”
Maliehe also congratulated the trio of Nkoto Masoabi, Tumelo Khutlang and Luciano Matsoso who now play in South Africa after impressing with the national team at the COSAFA Cup.
Masoabi was signed by Real Kings in the National First Division (NFD) while Khutlang and Matsoso play for Black Leopards in the elite league.
“I have always said that we need our players in better leagues outside the country and I am confident that the three will comeback better players when they come for national duty,” Maliehe said.