Makoanyane XI’s moment of truth

Mikia Kalati

NATIONAL under-20 football team coach, Moses Maliehe, has sounded the battle cry ahead of Saturday’s decisive African Youth Championship second round clash against Angola in Luanda.

Makoanyane XI, as the team is affectionately known by fans, wade into the weekend tie carrying a 3-1 advantage from the first leg of the qualifier played at Setsoto Stadium two weeks ago — a lead Maliehe believes is defendable, hence his optimism.

The Lesotho delegation leaves tomorrow for the Portuguese-speaking nation and Maliehe says Makoanyane XI have a good game-plan to protect the first-leg victory.

Makoanyane XI have been camping at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena since Sunday and Maliehe is happy with the fitness level of the squad, going into such an important match.
“We have been working very hard and continued with our preparations since the qualifiers started with the first match against Swaziland last month,” Maliehe said.
“But we have had to prepare the team mentally, as we will be going to war in Luanda. Because they will be at home, the Angolans will be extremely dangerous, so the plan is to make sure we don’t allow them too much possession because they are a threat when building-up from the back.”

However, Maliehe said they now know the strengths and weaknesses of the Angolans.
“We are well aware that it is going to be very difficult to get the results there in Luanda, but the boys are prepared mentally and physically for this battle,” said Maliehe.
“I know if we become defensive, it might work against us, so we will try and catch them on the counterattack as the Angolans have a problem in defence.”

Maliehe is hoping reaching the finals of the continental showcase in Senegal, would atone for Makoanyane XI’s first round exit from the regional Cosafa tournament Lesotho hosted in December last year.
Meanwhile, Makoanyane XI will, once again, bank on the experience of captain Teboho Lekhooa and striker Thabiso Brown, who scored a brace in the first leg match.
The team will also look to the in-form Tumelong Khutlang, who has been Lesotho’s poster-boy since the start of the qualifiers.

Khutlang has scored three goals since the start of the qualification campaign, blasting home a brace in the 3-0 win over Swaziland in the first leg of the first round and one goal in the 3-1 romp against Angola.

A draw or win would book Makoanyane XI a place in the third round of the two-yearly competition, where they are set to meet football powerhouse, Nigeria, who enjoy a 2-0 advantage over Tanzania going
into the second leg match this weekend.

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