MANONYANE skipper Tumelo Ngatane has been called up for senior national team duty for the first time after he was named in Thabo Senong’s provisional team this week.
Killer, as Ngatane is popularly known, was called along with former Kick4Life striker, Morapeli Lesoetsa and Bantu midfielder, Thabo Lesaoana in the 31-man provisional squad. The team is preparing for the third and fourth rounds of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The squad commenced its preparations yesterday (Wednesday).
Ngatane told the Lesotho Times on Monday that he was excited and was prepared to fight for a spot in the final team.
“I am so happy with this opportunity, I know it will not be an easy road but I am prepared to fight for a place in the final team,” Ngatane said.
“The call up came as a surprise but I thank my coach Mosholi Mokhothu because he is the one who kept pushing me and told me that this day would come.”
The last time Ngatane was in a national team set up was back in 2015 when he was in Likuena’s B team but he never graduated to the senior team.
And this time around, even if he does not make it into the final team, he would still be happy with the opportunity to showcase his skills.
“The target is to make it into the final team but even if it doesn’t happen, I will not give up because I believe I will one day get such a chance. It is not going to be easy but I am up for it. I have been given too many responsibilities in our team and that has forced me to always double my efforts,” Ngatane said.
Senong said selecting a team when there are no competitions being played was extremely challenging.
He however, said they decided to go for experience while also considering continuity using the team that they had selected in February this year before the Covid-19 induced national lockdowns.
“It’s a difficult situation but also a bit exciting because it looks like we are closer to getting back to football.
“However, on the other hand, it is also a challenging situation since we had to pick a team after six months of no football,” Senong said.
“The technical team had to be flexible but our first aspect was to look for continuity from the team that we had selected in February. At the same time, we also had to look for experience. It was only fair to bring in the experience and not so many new faces and concentrate on the players’ physical fitness and confidence.”
Back in the team are Mabuti Potloane, Thapelo Tale, Tšotleho Jane and Tšepo Seturumane.
Senong said they are still hoping to compete in the COSAFA in Durban next month.
“There have been some omissions and some additions as we have assembled a 31-man squad. We needed a bigger pool which will be trimmed later.
“As for COSAFA, we are still hopeful that we are going but the challenge is that the South African premier league is going to start in the middle of the COSAFA tournament, so I don’t think we will be able to get our four players who play in South Africa. This is why we need a big pool to play in the COSAFA tournament before the AFCON qualifiers,” he said.
Likuena is third in group L with a point after one draw with Sierra Leone and a 2-4 loss to Nigeria.
CAF announced last month that the third and fourth rounds of the AFCON qualifiers would be played between 9 and 17 November and between 22 and 30 March 2021 respectively.
The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations was supposed to have been hosted by Cameroon next year but was moved to January 2022.
Senong’s charges are left with back to back matches against Benin before playing both Sierra Leone and Nigeria in return fixtures
Likuena full squad:
Goalkeepers: Ntsane Lichaba, Sekhoane Moerane and Monaheng Ramalefane.
Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Nkau Lerotholi, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Basia Makepe, Lisema Lebokollane, Rethabile Rasethuntša, Bokang Sello and Thabang Malane.
Midfielders: Tšepo Toloane, Thabo Lesaoana, Tumelo Ngatane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Jane Tšotleho, Thabo Matšoele, Thabo Seakhoa, Tshwarelo Bereng, Mabuti Potloane, Hlompho Kalake, Tumelo Khutlang, Jane Thabantšo and Litšepe Marabe.
Strikers: Morapeli Lesoetsa, Tšepo Seturumane, Nkoto Masoabi, Motebang Sera, Thapelo Tale, Mokone Marabe and Thabang Rabi.