Notši ponders U-23 prospects

MASERU – In exactly a month’s time Lesotho will kick off its campaign at the Caf African Youth Championship in Libya.

Lesotho will come up against Libya, Egypt and Mali in Group A while Group B comprises of world champions Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gambia.

On Monday the Makoanyane XI left for South Africa for a four-day training camp at Pretoria’s High Performance Centre. Today the side is expected to depart for Saudi Arabia for a friendly match on Sunday.

A month ahead of the tournament the Lesotho Times spoke to Makoanyane XI mentor Leslie Notši about tactics and his team’s prospects.

LS: The team began camp a couple of weeks ago, how has it gone? How is the mood in the camp?

LN: They have been very fruitful – we have added a new aspect of training of using the gym at Lehakoe. We have brought in a fitness trainer who works closely with the team. The team trains three times a week, twice a day monitored by the fitness trainer. It’s a sports specific programme.

The mood is quite good, the players are enjoying it and they are looking forward to the tournament. All in all we are happy.

LT: One noticeable aspect of your team has been the discipline and the team bond. Can you comment about this?

LN: As the technical team we have realised that a team can have good players but if it is not disciplined then it will not succeed. The players have to be a disciplined unit, on and off the field.

It’s a big part of my philosophy. As much as they are all talented as individuals we have made them aware that “motho ke motho ka batho” (no man is an island). They need to work as one to achieve.

LT: What is the plan now during the last month of preparation?

LN: On Monday we are leaving for Pretoria. This is where the boys will be put through a series of fitness and psychological tests. They will undergo a medical assessment, functional movement analysis, sports science testing and we will also have nutritional discussions and lectures.

Then on Thursday (today) we are going to fly out to Saudi Arabia. We play on Sunday the 20th from there we come back home on the 22nd. Then on the 28th we are going to start high altitude training for a week. Then we will camp for a week and then we will leave for Libya.

While we are in Pretoria we are going to play a training match against Mamelodi Sundowns’ reserve team. Ted Dumitru (former Bafana Bafana coach and now Sundowns technical director) will be there to watch and it will be helpful to hear his views and advice. I want to go to Libya prepared in as many ways as possible and if you have someone who has the knowledge of Ted Dumitru available why not take advantage of it.

LT: Looking from the outside it seems there is a good synergy between the Makoanyane XI and Lefa over the past two years.

Everything we have done has been done hand-in-hand with the association, with the office of the head of delegation under Ntate Khiba (Mohoanyane) together with the TD (technical director) Ntate (Seephephe) Matete, and with the office of the CEO.

In the past people have talked about lack of co-operation and planning.

LT: What is the Makoanyane XI’s target for the Caf African Youth Championship?

LN: We should not put ourselves under pressure and we should not pressure the boys. But at the same time we should not underestimate ourselves. Our track record speaks volumes, we have beaten some top teams over the past year and I still believe we can do more.

Our target is to get three points from the first match against Egypt; that is our target. The rest will follow from there.

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