…as Likuena draw Liberia in Nations Cup qualifiers
By Moorosi Tsiane
MASERU — Interim national football team coach, Seephephe ‘Mochini’ Matete, is confident his charges would rise to the occasion when they clash with Liberia in a decisive qualifier of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.
Lesotho, who have never qualified for the Afcon tournament, were paired against Liberia’s Lone Stars in the second round of the continental qualifiers at a draw held in Cairo, Egypt on April 27.
Likuena, as the national team is popularly known, first face the Lone Stars in Monrovia on the weekend of May 16-18, and meet in the reverse fixture in Maseru a fortnight later.
The winner of this two-legged encounter will take on the champion of the Comoros/Kenya tie in the third round, whose first leg is scheduled for July 18-20 with the reverse tie set for August 1-3.
The winner of the third round will join Burkina Faso, Angola, and Gabon in Group C of the final phase of the qualifiers.
However, Matete is currently focusing on Liberia, who qualified for the continental championship in 1996 and 2002, before thinking about the subsequent matches.
“Facing Liberia is not going to be easy; they have very good players playing in Europe and South Africa, but I believe we can win against them. However, for this to happen, we need to have very thorough preparations because this is a very good side we are going to be meeting,” Matete on Tuesday told the Lesotho Times.
Likuena troop into camp next week, although Matete also revealed some of the players have already started gym-sessions at Lehakoe, as well as normal training at Setsoto stadium.
“We started our preparations yesterday, but I’m hoping the rest of the players will report for camp on Monday next week. I know this might not be easy because the Premier League is about to end and all the teams have something to fight for, and might not be too keen to release their players,” said Matete.
As preparations for the Liberia clash, Matete is hoping Likuena could play at least three friendly matches.
“We need at least three friendlies before the qualifiers begin, and we have been trying to see if we could play Swaziland and Mozambique next week.”
Meanwhile, only 16 teams will make it to the 2015 Afcon finals set for January 17-February 8 in Moroccan cities of Agadir, Marrakech, Rabat and Tangier.
Goalkeepers: Likano Mphuthi, Kananelo Makhooane, Mohau Kuenane
Defenders: Sepiriti Malefane, Nkau Lerotholi, Thabo Masualle, Basia Makepe, Tlali Maile, Bokang Mothoana
Midfielders: Mabuti Potloane, Tšoanelo Koetle, Lekhanya Lekhanya, Motlalepula Mofolo, Makara Ntaitsane, Tšepo Seturumane, Bushy Moletsane, Phafa Tšosane, Khoto Sesinye
Strikers: Thapelo Tale, Tšepo Lekhooana
Full 2015 Afcon draw
Group A: Nigeria (defending champions), South Africa, Sudan, Namibia/Congo/Libya/Rwanda.
Group B: Mali, Algeria, Ethiopia, winner of São Tomé/Benin/Malawi/Chad.
Group C: Burkina Faso, Angola, Gabon, winner of Liberia/Lesotho/Kenya/Comoros.
Group D: Ivory Coast, Cameroon, DR Congo, winner of Swaziland/Sierra Leone/Gambia/Seychelles.
Group E: Ghana, Togo, Guinea, winner of Madagascar/Uganda/Mauritania/EqGuinea.
Group F: Zambia, Cape Verde, Niger, winner of Tanzania/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/South Sudan.
Group G: Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, winner of Burundi/Botswana/CAR/Guinea Bissau.