Maliehe is his own man

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Mikia Kalati

National team coach Moses Maliehe surprised many soccer fans when he announced a relatively new-look squad for the back-to back 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against the Seychelles.

I was among those who doubted the wisdom of dropping tried and tested players at such a crucial moment but the man deserves credit for such bravery.

After going down 2-0 in the first match last Saturday, Maliehe’s side beat Seychelles 2-1 at Setsoto on Tuesday for their first win of the qualifiers.

The performance in the win might not have been one of the best, but the players showed the right character and attitude to the game, which means they have a great chance of improvement going forward.

Like I said, we should give credit where it is due because it has been a long time since Likuena won a match in a competitive competition such as the Nations Cup.

However, the truth of the matter is we played one of the weakest football nations on the continent, and the win had to be expected.

Still, it was refreshing to see this group of players, most of whom have never played at this level, so hungry to win at all costs.

I honestly think we should have won by a bigger margin, but it was clear these boys lacked experience.

Yet all that matters is Maliehe believed in these lads and gave them the chance to show what they can do and in return, they delivered a win in front of their supporters.

Of course, there is still a long way to go for this group but like I said, this is a young bunch that can only improve with time.

I know Maliehe was brave enough to say he wants players who are willing to learn, humble and respect national colours. However, I still feel this group is going to struggle against a powerhouse such as Algeria who they meet in their next Afcon qualifier.

That’s why I hope the coach can add a few experienced names such as Tšepo Seturumane, Nkau Lerotholi, Thapelo Mokhehle and Mabuti Potloane.

These four still have a lot left in their tank and I believe will add value to the team.

Overall, I was impressed with what I saw against Seychelles on this week.

Tumelo Khutlang raised his hand that he wants to be part of the team with a man-of-the match performance and wrapped it up with individual brilliance when he scored the winner.

America-based Jane Tšotleho was also fantastic on the day and proved he deserved a chance to play for Likuena.

I can go on and on about individual players who did us proud on Tuesday but like I said, it was also clear they still have much to learn.

The ball is now in the court of the Lesotho Football Association to make sure they support Maliehe and his team by getting them regular friendly matches against proper opponents.

Forget Swaziland and Botswana for a while and get us other countries that can help Likuena improve.

The regional Cosafa tournament scheduled for Namibia in July will surely be a good stage for this team to gain more experience. The good thing about this tournament is most nations send youngsters to the competition so our team would be battling their age-mates while gaining the required international exposure.

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