INTERIM coach, Seephephe Matete’s coaching credentials will be put to the test this Sunday when Likuena host Algeria in the second qualifier of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.
After all, Algeria is the number one-ranked national team on our continent and boasts a squad with players plying their trade across the European leagues. Added to that, a number of their players have been in prolific form in the few league matches played so far this season.
I know very well that the Algerian coach has been preparing for this match for some time. He flew to Rustenburg in South Africa during the regional COSAFA Cup in May to watch our beloved Likuena in action. Algeria and other top teams from North Africa always take their qualifiers seriously despite having squads playing in the world’s top leagues.
It would thus be no overstatement to surmise that the Desert Warriors, as the Algerian national football team is affectionately known, are determined to emerge victorious.
This assessment is not meant to look down on our players, but to serve as a reminder of what we are up against. The Algerians have been among the best teams the continent has to offer for the last three years, and Likuena will have to be at their best to compete with them.
I must say, though, that I am a bit concerned by the levels of confidence, or lack thereof, among our players heading into the encounter.
The fact that Likuena lost their opening matches against Ethiopia means another loss would make it very difficult for our boys to harbour any ambitions of once again playing in the continent’s biggest football showpiece.
Maybe taking their camp outside Bambatha would have boosted the Likuena players’ morale ahead of this crucial fixture.
In my view, the Lesotho Football Association don’t fancy Likuena’s prospects as far as these qualifiers are concerned.
No one seems to really care about the wellbeing of the players or goes the extra mile to ensure they are in high spirits ahead of such an important match.
My concern also stems from the perception that players are not happy about a lot of things including the food they are being offered at their camping base.
I can only hope that, on the day, the players will put whatever challenges and reservations they might have behind them and fight for their country.
The next two months will be very important for the team as there are also the World Cup and African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers to contend with.
Playing at home will be to our boys’ advantage this Sunday, and here’s hoping that they will rise to the occasion like they have done in the past against the so-called top guns of the continent.