Test of character for Makoanyane XI


National under-20 coach Moses Maliehe’s credentials will be put to the test this Saturday when his team faces Swaziland in the African Youth Championship qualifier, first round, first leg tie in Mbabane.

Maliehe has named a strong squad to face the Swazis with almost 80 of the players coming from Premier League sides, although not regulars.

The Makoanyane XI mentor has stated that he would also like to see his name in the country’s football history books by following in the footsteps of Seephephe Matete and Leslie Notši, who both led the under-20s to the 2005 and 2011 editions of the competition.

Swaziland are the whipping boys of the region, but I must warn our boys that they will have to sweat to overcome their Kingdom counterparts in the two-legged matches.

I saw the Swazi team during the Cosafa youth tournament played here in December last year and I must say, although they were booted out in the group stages just like our team, they did not look like a bad side at all and Maliehe and his boys should expect a tough match.

However, our team was unlucky to have been booted out of that competition in the group stage because they did not lose any of their three matches and also played good football.

But as usual for our teams, they were let down by poor finishing despite dominating possession, which is something Maliehe has to work on heading into the encounter against Swaziland.

It is also important for Maliehe to make sure that his team is solid in defence and avoid conceding in away matches, and this trick worked for Notši’s team which qualified for the 2011 edition of the tournament.
Luckily, Maliehe was the assistant coach and has an idea of what to expect.

Notši believes the current team has what it takes to emulate the Class of 2011 that was able to beat the likes of South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya to qualify for the youth championship.

The former Likuena mentor said he was impressed by this team during the Cosafa Cup, but they will have to be prepared mentally and physically to make the country proud.

The team looks quite solid, as goalkeeper Thabiso Lichaba has played big games for Matlama this season, while the likes of Teboho Lekhooa of Lioli and Mohau Rammoneng of Majantja, were impressive during the Cosafa tournament.

Tumelo Khutlang and Nkesi Rankhasa have also been doing well in the Premier League.
Rankhasa has matured over the years as he proved a fortnight ago when his only goal from the penalty-spot helped Matlama beat rivals Lioli 1-0.
Do us proud boys!

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