Likatola to square off against Botswana

Likatola to square off against Botswana

Luciah Phahla

Maseru

Lesotho national rugby coach Roy Zhou has called up a 23-man squad to face Botswana on April 30 at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.

The international Test match will be Likatola’s first without players from Maseru Giants who quit Lesotho rugby in February citing maladministration and bad refereeing standards.

Giants, Lesotho’s oldest and most successful club, were subsequently banned for two years by Federation of Lesotho Rugby.

Speaking on Tuesday, Likatola team manager Letsielo Mabitle admitted Giants have quality players but stressed Zhou has selected a squad he believes will deliver.

Lesotho will be captained by Samuel Takama of Mabote Beavers.

Zhou has also included five players plying their trade at South African universities, Lebohang Ntšinyi, Thabo Makuta, Sechaba Mokhele, Lapi Matsoso and Lehlohonolo Matsoso.

The last time Lesotho and Botswana squared-off was in June 2014 in Gaborone and Likatola were on the wrong end of a 44-3 score-line.

Botswana, rated 11th, is one of 16 nations ranked by Rugby Africa. Lesotho is yet to obtain a ranking from Africa’s governing body.

Mabitle said Zhou has picked players who have been active in the Lesotho Rugby League and he was optimistic Likatola will put in a good performance when the sides meet again.

“The coach has called locally-based players who have been playing in the league. He also included five that play in South Africa for their schools and we hope the selected team will represent the country well next week,” Mabitle told thepost.

“Giants players were quality but they are players just like other players. The players the coach has called will hopefully perform,” he added.

Next Saturday’s match will be Lesotho’s first since a 13-10 win over Swaziland last July.

Mabote Beavers, Maseru Warriors, National University of Lesotho Spears, Lesotho Correctional Service Lioalaoala and Black Cobras are the teams campaigning in the rugby league after Giants’ withdrawal and they make up the national team.

Likatola’s meeting with Botswana will also form part of Lesotho’s preparations for next month’s Africa Cup Division 2 tournament in Kigali, Rwanda. Lesotho will contest for the title against hosts Rwanda as well as Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The competition will run from May 15 to 21. Likatola have played four matches in their four-year history winning two and losing two.

Mabitle also looked back on the just ended Lesotho Rugby League season saying despite a few setbacks, the championship went smoothly.

He congratulated Mabote Beavers for being crowned national champions for the first time after they defeated Maseru Warriors 15-12 in the season finale last Saturday.

“The level of competition in the league is high and everything went well except challenges here and there. We first saw Mabote Beavers last year when they won the Rugby Sevens championship and now they have won the league. They have surprised a lot of people,” Mabitle stated.

Lesotho’s international results:

Lesotho 13-10 Swaziland (04/07/2015)

Botswana 44-3 Lesotho (14/06/2014)

Swaziland 13-0 Lesotho (04/05/2014)

Lesotho 5-3 Swaziland (22/02/2014)

Likatola squad:

Samuel Takama (captain), Tšeliso Mabitle,  Lehlohonolo Matsoso,  Mokone Chabana,  Khosana Thamae,  Motheo Mokhothu,  Lapi Matsoso,  Mphaki Karabo,  Tinashe Mugayi,  Molumo Rethabile,  Moleleki Moleleki,  Sedumo Monikasi,  Sechaba Mokhele,  Reatile Joale, Thabo Makuta, Thiba Thakhisi,  Motlatsi Moabi,  Lebohang Ntšinyi,  Tšepo Nomandla,  Litšitso Motšeremeli, Seabata Tsoeute,  Metsing Mahloane,  Tlali Nkuka.

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