Mikia Kalati/Moorosi Tsiane
Likuena star, Bokang “Lefty” Mothoana, is confident of victory when Lesotho take on Liberia away in Monrovia on Sunday in a crucial 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier.
Lesotho, who have never qualified for the biennial football showpiece, were paired against Liberia’s Lone Stars in the second round of the qualifiers at a draw held in Cairo, Egypt on April 27.
Winners of this two-legged encounter face the champions of the Comoros/Kenya tie in the third round, whose first leg is scheduled for July 18-20 with the reverse tie set for August 1-3. Whoever wins the third round joins Burkina Faso, Angola, and Gabon in Group C of the final phase of the qualifiers.
Mothoana, who has been unattached since leaving Tunisian Premier League side US Monastir in July 2013, on Monday told the Lesotho Times he was in good shape and ready to help the national football team, Likuena, do well in the qualifiers.
“We will work hard to make sure that our country is well-represented, and the confidence is high in our camp,” Mothoana said.
The left-footed utility player, who looks set to be handed the captain’s armband in Sunday’s tie, also said he would gladly accept the honour and lead the team in what promises to be an extremely tough encounter.
“If given a chance to captain the team, I would gladly accept it; I will be very happy to lead my nation against Liberia in Monrovia.”
Asked about his fitness-level given his lack of match-practice, the gifted playmaker said he has been keeping himself in shape through training with his boyhood club Likhopo.
“We cannot run away from the fact that every player needs competitive football to be at his best, but I have been training hard with Likhopo and the national team. I am fit and ready to help the country do well, and I feel good and ready.
“We have a very good team and we are all looking forward to the encounter against Liberia.”
Likuena interim coach, Seephepe Matete, said he was also happy with the spirit of his players leading to the all-important match against Liberia, who qualified for the Afcon tournament in 1996 and 2002.
“The players have been very responsive and committed and are ready to go to war on Sunday,” Matete said.
“I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind, that the boys will do the nation proud in Liberia.”
Matete said while the team’s preparations went according to plan, he would have been happier had Likuena played more friendly matches leading to the qualifiers.
Meanwhile, Matete was forced to make a few changes to the team with former skipper, Moitheri Ntobo, joining camp just a day before the team flew to Monrovia on Tuesday.
The steely LCS defender replaced the Bantu duo of Thabo Masualle and Tlali Maile, who did not make the trip due to personal commitments.
“I am happy with the squad that I have although I did not get all the players I needed.
“We have been forced to leave behind two experienced defenders in Masualle and Maile but, anyway, we have to make-do with what we have.”
Matete also said another worry is that Liberia are “a closed book” to him. Save for Anthony Laffor, who plays for South Africa’s newly-crowned Premier League champions Mamelodi Sundowns, the Lone Stars are virtually unknown.
“It is going to be very tough because we know very little about them, but we are travelling earlier so that we can pick up a few things leading to the match.”
Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane, Kananelo Makhoaoane, Likano Mphuthi
Defenders: Bokang Sello, Basia Makepe, Moitheri Ntobo, Bokang Mothoana, Nkau Lerotholi, Sepiriti Malefane
Midfielders: Tšoanelo Koetle, Matlalepula Mofolo, Bushy Moletsane, Mabuti Potloane, Phafa Tšosane, Khoto Sisinye, Lekhanya Lekhanya, Makara Ntaitsane, Tšepo Seturumane
Strikers: Thapelo Tale, Tšepo Lekhooana