MASERU — Lesotho’s Under-20 coach Leslie Notši believes an away goal will be crucial when Makoanyane XI face Kenya in their crunch Caf Under-20 Championship qualifier in Nairobi on Saturday.
The tie is Lesotho’s last hurdle before the 2011 Caf Under-20 Championship next March in Libya.
And as with any two-legged tie, away goals could be decisive.
This was certainly the case in Lesotho’s last tie when the young warriors beat South Africa 2-0 away and qualified despite a 2-1 loss at home.
Notši said he was hoping for a repeat performance.
“The plan is that we should see to it that we score as many goals as we can, and also not concede a goal,” he told the Lesotho Times.
“We learnt from our last game that it can be crucial. We need to score.”
Notši was speaking after watching his side draw 1-1 against Vodacom Premier League side LCS at the Central Prison on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are satisfied because the purpose was to give some of the players who didn’t play (in the league) on the weekend some game time,” he said.
Makoanyane XI have been in scintillating form this year, dispatching Mozambique 7-2 in the preliminary round before the 3-2 win over South Africa in the last round.
Saturday’s match, to be played at Kenya’s Nyayo National Stadium, will however be a tough test for Makoanyane XI.
Kenya is unbeaten at home in the youth qualifiers.
“I believe in my players,” Notši said.
“We have a team that is improving all the time and a team that can compete. They deserve to be where they are.”
Notši added that his charges should be prepared for anything in Kenya.
Lesotho’s Under-17 side complained that they were mistreated in Cameroon ahead of their 4-2 loss a fortnight ago.
“We know that usually in other African countries the conditions are not the same,” he said.
“But we have to take everything as it comes. If there will be problems we will have to brush them aside.”
Notši has made three additions to his squad, retaining the bulk of the players who have been so good this year.
The Bantu duo of midfielder Mangana Maoela and forward Thabiso Possa as well as South Africa based left-back Tumelo Bereng join the team.
The only is concern is Jeremiah Kamele who sustained an injury against Botswana last Thursday.
Makoanyane XI beat a Botswana Under-23 side 2-1 in Gaborone thanks to goals from Litšepe Marabe and Lehlomela Ramabele.
Notši admitted he didn’t know what to expect from Kenya but said playing against the Botswana side was the best possible practice.
“To be honest they are a closed book,” he said of Kenya. “At the same time it is important to focus on our team.
“I think we made the right decision to play against the Botswana Under-23 team.
“It’s a team that play in a similar way to Kenya.
“They are quite physical, they run a lot and their tactical awareness is very good so they gave us a chance to test ourselves.”
Kenya coach Vince Ombiji told journalists in the east African country that his team were in good shape.
“My ambition is to beat Lesotho both home and away which I believe is achievable,” he said.
“I remain confident we have the capacity to qualify.
“I believe that this is the best youth team Kenya has assembled in years and they represent the future of Kenyan football.”
But Notši insisted his charges were ready for Kenya.
“The players have worked hard and you can see by their attitude that they are aware of what this match means to Lesotho,” he said.
“There are no longer any small teams — people didn’t expect us to get where we are.
“It shows that we have something special and it needs to be protected.”