Likuena in must-win back-to-back Nations Cup clashes against Seychelles
National team interim coach, Moses Maliehe, was in high spirits this week ahead of Saturday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against the Seychelles away in Victoria.
This will be Maliehe’s first official match in charge of Likuena and the Matlama mentor was unfazed by the almost insurmountable task he faces in taking Lesotho to the ‘Promised Land’ of Gabon next year.
Winless Lesotho go into the match bottom of four-team Group J, which also comprises leaders Algeria, second-placed Ethiopia and the Seychelles.
Algeria have won all their two matches and are favourites to win the group and automatically qualify for the final Afcon tournament in Gabon early next year, while Ethiopia have won one match and drawn one, with the Seychelles losing one and drawing one of their fixtures.
But Maliehe is looking ahead and not at what happened when his predecessor, Seephephe Matate, was still in charge.
What only appears to bother the coach is the time his charges would spend on the road before their next match against the same islanders at Setsoto Stadium next Tuesday.
Likuena left for the Seychelles yesterday and are expected home on Sunday.
“From here, we will drive to Johannesburg, fly to Dubai, and then take a connecting flight to the Seychelles. That’s a long trip before such a crucial tie but we have to do the job and also be ready for the return leg next week,” Maliehe said.
“We will go there with one thing in our minds, and that is to win the game because I have confidence in the players I have picked for the two match.”
Maliehe has selected a relatively new squad to the one used by Matete. The team was also boosted by Monday morning’s arrival of America-based midfielder Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho.
The coach also added Lioli goalkeeper, Kananelo Makhooane, to his original squad which had Liteboho Mokhehle and Daniel Jousse as the two stoppers.
Maliehe was happy with his squad’s preparations.
“I think we have covered all the areas we needed to address since we started with this group late last year. What is left now is for us to do our country proud in these qualifiers. Like I said, we have a chance to qualify as one of the two best runners-up but for this to happen, we need to win all our remaining four qualifiers.”
For his part, America-based Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho said he was honoured to be back in the national team after an eight-month absence.
The 24-year-old was part of the Likuena squad that played at the regional Cosafa tournament held in South Africa last year.
“It is always an honour to be part of Likuena and I will give my best to make sure the team performs well in the two matches,” Tšotleho said.
“I arrived a bit tired after the long trip from the States, but I will surely be ready for the weekend game.
“The good thing for me is I had a chance to be in camp with this group while I was here in December,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Jousse (LCS), Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli), Kananelo Makhooane (Lioli).
Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Basia Makepe, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo (all Lioli), Nkesi Rankhasa (Matlama) Sepiriti Malefane (Bantu).
Midfielders: Jerry Kamela, Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Kefuoe Mahula, Jane Thabantšo, Phafa Tsosane (all Matlama), Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho (Richmond Kicker, US).
Strikers: Motlalepula Chabeli, Thabiso Brown (both Kick4Life, Lehlomela Ramabele (Likhopo), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli).