Likuena set to return

MASERU — Lesotho’s national team Likuena will return to the international stage when they enter the draw for the 2014 World Cup qualifiers next year.

The team has been in self-imposed exile since the beginning of last year when it was disbanded by the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) following a string of poor results.

The national team hasn’t played a competitive match since 2009.

Lefa ordered the suspension to focus on rebuilding the under-performing senior team through the Under-20 team and the Under-17 sides.

However speaking to the Lesotho Times yesterday Lefa’s public relations officer Baba Malephane confirmed Likuena will be registered for the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers when registration opens next year.

The registration will begin after the conclusion of the 2012 African Cup of Nations in January and February which Lesotho will not be  part of.

“Yes, we are going to register the team,” Malephane told this paper. “As soon as registration opens after the Nations Cup we will register Likuena.”

However the new team could compete before that if the Cosafa Senior Challenge is staged.

The regional showpiece was last played in 2009 when it was hosted and won by Zimbabwe.

Since then the tournament has struggled for sponsorship but there is hope it might be played in Mozambique this year.

Mozambique is also hosting the All Africa Games in July.

“We are still in discussions. I have recently come back from Mozambique. There is another panel going to a meeting shortly and we will have a better idea of the sponsor and of the dates when they come back,” Malephane said.

The meeting will take place sometime this month.

Lesotho has never bid to host the tournament.

Malephane said the Cosafa Metropolitan Under-20 Youth Championship in Botswana which is due to start at the end of November could also affect dates for the tournament.

“The dates will be determined by the sponsor who has shown interest in hosting the tournament. But it can’t be any later than October because we also have to begin the focus for the Cosafa Under-20 tournament in Botswana,” Malephane said.

When the national soccer senior team returns it will be coached by Under-20 mentor Leslie Notši and its core will be formed by the current Makoanyane XI team.

The side is likely to be enhanced by senior players both locally and internationally including Tunisia-based Bokang Mothoana, Botswana-based Bushy Moletsane and incumbent Likuena captain and Orlando Pirates defender Lehlohonolo Seema.

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