Big send-off  for Likuena

Big send-off for Likuena

MASERU – The Lesotho national team was given a hearty send-off by Prime Minister Motsoahae Thabane yesterday ahead of the team’s all-important 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Comoros this weekend. Likuena lock horns with Comoros in Moroni on Saturday in the first leg of the crucial tie and Thabane was on hand at the Lesotho Football Association’s Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena headquarters to wish Moses Maliehe’s charges luck.

The prime minister was accompanied by the first lady, the leaders of the four political parties which form Lesotho’s government and the Minister of Sports, Kabelo Mafura.
Addressing Likuena’s players and staff, Thabane called sport a uniting force which has the power to bring youths together and keep them away from undesirable activities.
“I came here because the future of Lesotho is in the hands of the youth,” the prime minister said.

“If we look at the statistics from other countries, our youths are more empowered than in other countries,” Thabane added.
“If you take an average devastation of things like HIV/AIDS here in Lesotho, when it comes to the upcoming generation we have a lot of youth who need to be kept busy by doing something when they come from school and sport is, of course, the answer.”

Thabane said the purpose of his visit was to empower and motivate Likuena’s players before their trip to Comoros.
The prime minister also took the opportunity to call for unity in Lesotho. “I want us to work together with the other leaders in government (and) whatever factions we have in the country, their cure is sport,” Thabane said.

“It’s the only thing that can bring us together because in sports it doesn’t matter whether you are an ABC supporter, Congress or whatever.”
Likuena are fresh off the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup where the side secured a commendable fourth-place finish last weekend.
Thabane urged the team to continue where it left off at the regional showpiece which was held in South Africa.
“Go and, for heaven’s sake, make us proud,” the prime minister said.

“Coach, here are your players; we put them in your hands,” he continued. “We came here to motivate and tell you that we love you and we are proud of you. When you come back, if you lost we will not come and welcome you, but if you win I will tell the whole country to come and welcome you. Which one do you choose?” Thabane continued jokingly.
Lesotho will play Comoros away this weekend before hosting the second leg in seven days’ time. Should Likuena progress, they will face Zimbabwe or Namibia in the final qualifying round in August.

That August date would be the last hurdle standing in the way of Lesotho potentially qualifying for its first-ever major international competition.
“The choice is yours,” Thabane said to the gathered Likuena squad. “Either you get a hero’s welcome or loser’s (welcome).
But, it is a sport; even if you lose we will still welcome you because you still belong to us. Go and bring victory and may God bless you.”
2018 CHAN qualifying:
Second round:
14 July
Comoros vs. Lesotho
21 July
Lesotho vs. Comoros
Third round:
11 August 2017 and 18 August 2017
Lesotho/Comoros vs. Namibia/Zimbabwe

Luciah Phahla

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