It’s win or bust for Likuena

It’s win or bust for Likuena

MASERU -The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has told Likuena’s technical team that reaching the COSAFA Cup semi-finals is not good enough and that it wants more.
The team has been given a mandate to reach the final this year or win the tournament for the first time.
This was revealed by national team manager Rantsubise Matete on Tuesday as Likuena prepares to face Uganda in the quarterfinals on Saturday in Durban, South Africa.
For the past two years Lesotho has reached the semi-finals of the regional showpiece only to lose to eventual champions Zimbabwe on both occasions.
Last year Likuena claimed bronze for the first time by beating Madagascar in the third and fourth place playoff.
The win was celebrated as a success for Lesotho football; however, LEFA said a similar feat would not be acceptable this year.
The mandate seems to heap more pressure on Likuena coach Moses Maliehe.

Speculation swirled that LEFA would relieve Maliehe of his duties after Lesotho failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in March but that has not been the case.
Matete reiterated that Maliehe has done well for the national team and said any decision about the Likuena job will not be made until after Lesotho’s 2020 CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against South Africa in August.
Matete was speaking at LEFA’s head-quarters, Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
Maliehe is not well at the moment and Likuena’s preparations for the COSAFA Cup quarterfinal against Uganda have been overseen by his assistant coaches, Lesotho Correctional Service boss Mpitsa Marai and Bantu mentor James Madidilane.
Maliehe did not travel with the team.

Matete said Madidilane has been roped in together with Bantu goalkeeper coach Postnet Omony to help the national team “get to another level”.
Both coaches have been instrumental to Bantu’s successes over the past three years which include two league titles and an Independence Cup trophy.
Looking forward to Saturday’s crunch tie against Uganda, Marai said Likuena’s preparations have been rocked by unfortunate injuries to two key defenders – Bantu’s Motlomelo Mkhwanazi and Matlama’s Mohai Mohai.
He said the two players will not make the trip to KwaZulu-Natal with the team.
“From the beginning we had 23 players in order for us to be able to select the final 20 that we have selected. The players we have left behind are Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Letlatsa Moshoeshoe (and) Mohai Mohai,” Marai said.

“We were looking at performance but Mkhwanazi had a foot injury and when the doctors assessed him they decided he cannot be part of the team. He is not the only one. Mohai also has two ankle injuries and that’s why he is not in the team.
“When it comes to Moshoeshoe we looked at the team and looked at his position and decided the people that have been selected are the ones we will take,” he said.
As part of their preparations, Likuena played a friendly match against foreign players in the Econet Premier League last Friday at Setsoto Stadium.
Asked about Likuena’s squad, Madidilane defended the selection of Black Leopards winger Luciano Matsoso saying he has been part of the Lesotho setup before.
Madidilane said Likuena’s technical team believes Matsoso will bring valuable international experience to the team even though he rarely featured this past season at his South African club.
“In Luciano’s case we looked at many things. Yes, he may not be playing in South Africa (but) the league where he is playing (means) we believe that with his experience there is something that he can help the team with. It was not about him being active. Yes, you can look at him and think he doesn’t deserve to be here but we look at so many things,” Madidilane said.
Lesotho will play Uganda at the Princess Magogo Stadium, a multi-purpose stadium in KwaMashu, a suburb of Durban. The winner will face Botswana or hosts South Africa in the semi-finals set for next Wednesday.

Marai said the Likuena coaching staff has picked the best available squad for the task ahead. He said the players picked, such as Bantu playmaker Hlompho Kalake, suit the game-plan Lesotho will use.
“We opted for Hlompho based on how we are going to approach the game (against Uganda),” Marai said.
“Yes, he is not a natural right winger but, based on the approach for this tournament, we believe that he is the one who will give us what we want for this tournament. And also, we tried to check in the Premier League who at this point in time can come and help us.
“But I will say, because of how we are planning for this tournament, we felt that the only player who fits our game-plan for this tournament is Hlompho and we still have Tale who I believe is an option (on the wing) if Hlompho is not working out.”

Final Lesotho squad:

Goalkeepers:
Samuel Ketsekile (LCS), Thabiso Lichaba (Bantu), Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama)

Defenders:
Bokang Sello (Bantu), Basia Makepe, Nkau Lerotholi (both LMPS), Lesia Thetsane (USA based), Kopano Tseka (Lioli)

Midfielders:
Sepiriti Malefane (LCS), Tšoanelo Koetle (Lioli), Tšepo Toloane (LDF), Luciano Matsoso, Tšoanelo Bereng, Tumelo Khutlang (all Black Leopards, RSA), Hlompho Kalake, Lehlohonolo Fothoane (both Bantu), Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama)

Strikers:
Motebang Sera (Matlama), Nkoto Masoabi (Real Kings, RSA), Thapelo Tale (LCS)

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