LESOTHO’S senior national soccer side, Likuena have a good chance of rewriting the history books in the 2017 regional COSAFA Cup that got underway in Rustenburg, South Africa on Sunday.
Likuena will enter the fray at the quarterfinals- their reward for a good performance at last year’s tournament where they won all their three games in the group stage before losing out to eventual winners, South Africa at the quarter final stage.
Starting at the quarterfinals should be an advantage to Likuena who will not only be fresher but also be spared the stress of having to negotiate past the group stages.
Lesotho also head into the regional tournament on the back of impressive results where they have not lost in their last three games.
They recently drew 1-all with Tanzania in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tie last month after scoring friendly wins over Swaziland and Mauritania.
The recent mini-revival has not only lifted Basotho to believe in the team, the confidence of the players is also very high as they proved away to Tanzania.
I really think Likuena have a good chance of going all the way if they maintain the same attitude and determination of their recent matches.
They have what it takes to match any side at the tournament.
The bulk of the players who reached the quarterfinals in Namibia last year have been retained in a squad that has been improved by the additions of seasoned campaigners such as Tšoanelo Koetle and Bokang Mothoana.
Koetle had an outstanding tournament in 2015 winning two man of the match awards, but missed out last year due to off the field issues.
He has formed a formidable midfield partnership with Mothoana and the rejuvenated Hlompho Kalake.
They are the key players and if they rise to the occasion then Likuena could reach the final for only the second time since 2000 when they lost out to Zimbabwe.
It is a shame that up to now, Likuena have not been able to reach the finals again.
After proving our ability to go toe to toe with other teams with our squad which had the likes of Monaheng ‘Doc’ Monyane, Lehlohonolo Seema and current assistant coach, Mpitsa Marai, our football sadly declined.
This was due in part to administrative issues.
As much as we want to see Likuena playing in major continental competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations and others, the first priority should be to earn the respect of our regional counterparts and that can only happen if our team does well in the COSAFA Cup.
Not only should we stamp our authority in the senior category, but even for the junior competitions as we did with the under-20 side that made it to the final in 2003 only to lose to Madagascar.
So if the harmony and high spirits I have seen in the Likuena camp are anything to go by, I have no doubt that the team will go all the way come 9 July.