Likatola ready for battle

Likatola ready for battle

Maseru – Lesotho national rugby team coach Roy Nyasha-Zhou is gearing up for the Rugby Africa 1D South tournament which kicks off next Sunday.
The championship will be contested by Swaziland, Malawi and hosts Lesotho with the winner set to be promoted to Rugby Africa’s 1C tier next year.
Speaking on Tuesday, Nyasha-Zhou said Likatola have been preparing since March and are ready to give their visitors an unfriendly welcome to the Kingdom.

Key to Lesotho’s confidence is recent positive results against both opponents. Lesotho beat Swaziland 13-10 last June at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and claimed an impressive 31-11 away victory over Malawi last August.  Similar results at the upcoming week-long 1C championship would mean promotion for Likatola and another milestone for the Federation of Lesotho Rugby (FLR) which celebrated its fifth year anniversary last month.

“Our preparations have been going very well and we have been preparing for a very long time,” Nyasha-Zhou told thepost on Tuesday. “We have played many games and we are looking forward to the championship.” As part of their preparations Likatola played several games that included a trip to Zambia last month where they competed at the Lusaka Rugby Sevens Tournament for the first time.

Two weeks later Likatola were hosts of the first-ever Maseru International Sevens Rugby tournament which was held at Setsoto Stadium.
Lesotho finished fourth and Nyasha-Zhou said the side will take the lessons learned from the shortened version of the game into next week’s 1C Cup which will be played in the traditional 15-a-side format.

“We learned a lot from the rugby sevens tournament that was held in the country, some of the players in the squad took part in it,” he said.
“We have not made any changes to the squad that we called a few months ago to start preparations and the lessons we learnt from the Maseru International Sevens will be crucial in the Tri-Nations tournament (against Swaziland and Malawi),” Nyasha-Zhou added.
Likatola’s fans will certainly hope that will be the case.

Lesotho has enjoyed a meteoric rise since the formation of the FLR in 2012 and the country is now a full member of the continental governing body, Rugby Africa. The upcoming 1C Cup is part of Rugby Africa’s Regional Challenge — the lowest tier of African rugby. It is made up of 12 countries which are divided into four groups of three teams.

The Group West 1 tournament containing Benin, Ghana and Togo was played from April 30 to May 6; the Group West 2 section containing Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger was played from May 21 to 27 and the Group Centre tournament containing Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon is on-going and ends on Saturday.

The final section — the Group South tournament containing Lesotho, Malawi and Swaziland —will be played from October 15 to 22 and will give Likatola another opportunity to make history.

Promotion to 1C will see Lesotho join Nigeria, Algeria, Cameroon, Zambia, Mauritius and Rwanda in the next level of Africa’s rugby pyramid.

Maseru International Sevens final standings:
1. Zimbabwe
2. Zambia
3. Lesotho Invitation (Free State Cheetahs)
4. Lesotho (Likoatola)
5. SA All Stars
6. Namibia
7. Mauritius
8. Maseru Select

Luciah Phahla

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