Likuena at crossroads

Likuena at crossroads

Sports Reporter

MASERU

THIS week we give you a summary of the fixtures and key players who will do battle for Likuena in the COSAFA Cup tournament that begins in Namibia on Sunday.

Lesotho’s 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup fixture:

Lesotho v Mauritius (Sunday 12 June)

Angola v Lesotho (Tuesday 14 June)

Malawi v Lesotho (Thursday 16 June)

 

Likuena’s COSAFA Castle Cup Squad

Goalkeepers

Daniel Jousse (Lesotho Correctional Service)

Jousse goes into the COSAFA Cup following a stellar season at Lesotho Correctional Service. With the agile goal-tender between the sticks, ‘Masheshena’ harboured hopes of an expected league title for much of the season and it is that form that has probably earned him Likuena’s number one jersey in these final weeks ahead of the COSAFA Cup. Jousse has played for Lesotho’s Under-15, 17, 20 and 23 teams. Now he gets the chance to make himself Likuena’s first choice.

Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli)

Mokhehle spent the 2015/16 season competing for number one jersey at his club with Kananelo Makhooane and Mohau Kuenane so his campaign was stop-start one.

So, despite his top-class displays wherever he played, the fact he was not his club’s undisputed keeper is probably the reason why Mokhehle is likely to start the COSAFA Cup as Maliehe’s second choice. Nonetheless, Mokhehle’s excellent communication and aerial skills make him a valuable option and, as such, makes the goalkeeping department is Lesotho’s strongest area which probably hasn’t been the case since the late Tšeliso Thite.

Defenders

Basia Makepe (Lioli)

Makepe is the first name on the team-sheet not only because he is captain of the team, but because he is its most reliable performer. He is ever-present and ever steady and is coming off another successful domestic campaign. Makepe’s strength is his positioning and reading of the game but he also has the physical prowess to win physical battles.

Kopano Tseka (Lioli)

Tseka’s form is arguably the most crucial piece of the puzzle in Namibia. Why? Because Tseka has been tabbed as the man to partner Makepe in the heart of defence. He is a full-hearted defender but can be prone to a rash error. Lesotho needs Tseka to be on top of his game if the team is to succeed.

Bokang Sello (Lioli)

Another member of Lioli’s vaunted defensive unit, Sello is the team’s first choice at left-back. He has earned the spot through his consistent displays at club level, including on the continent, over the past two years.

Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli)

Moremoholo started at right-back against Ethiopia which means he has the inside track to start on Sunday against Mauritius. He has good pace, a calm head and brings plenty of international experience despite his young age.

Motlomelo Mkhwanazi (Sandawana)

Mkhwanazi shot to prominence over the past year as part of the Sandawana side that upset the applecart to finish fourth in the league. A rock at the back, Mkhwanazi has played himself into the Likuena set-up despite not being in Maliehe’s 24-man preliminary squad at the start of April. He is the centre-back plan B behind Makepe and Tseka.

Sepiriti Malefane (Bantu)

Despite not starting against Ethiopia, Malefane’s versatility is important for the team and he could still find himself a key player at the COSAFA Cup. As things stand, Lesotho’s right-back and central defensive midfield positions are still up for grabs.

Midfielders

Montoeli Sonopo (Lioli)

Sonopo burst onto the scene in 2010 as a high-flying winger in the colours of Nyenye Rovers. He quickly earned a mega move to Lioli and, after impressing at the CAF African U-20 Championship in 2011, earned himself a move to Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. However, his stay in Spain was short-lived and the episode seemed to affect Sonopo. His form dipped and the winger found himself out of favour at national and club level. This season has been a renaissance one for Sonopo, however, and he has worked himself back into the national fold. He remains a blistering talent.

Jeremea Kamela (Lioli)

Kamela has been a standout player for club and country for the past year. However, such is his versatility, it remains to be seen where Kamela will actually play in Namibia. Against Ethiopia he started as Likuena’s anchor-man in midfield but didn’t have his normal influence on the game. If his talents can be harnessed correctly, Kamela can be a difference-maker for Lesotho at the COSAFA Cup.

Hlompho Kalake (Bantu)

Kalake is comfortable on the ball and possesses a wide range of passes. The creative midfielder has risen to prominence since moving to Bantu in 2013 and is one of several players that could move abroad with a strong display in Namibia.

Kefuoe Mahula (Matlama)

Long touted as a future prospect, Mahula thrived under Maliehe’s guidance at club level with Matlama this past season. Even though he was deployed in a deeper midfield role, Mahula lost none of his inventive powers and took over as Matlama’s primary creative force.  He is not a first choice but could work his way into the starting line-up.

Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama)

Thaba-Ntšo has become one of the first names on the team-sheet and the Matlama attacking midfielder is only getting better. He is that rare gem in football, a goal-scoring midfielder, and such a player’s presence allows the team to pursue solidity in midfield while losing none of its offensive threat. This is why Thaba-Ntšo will be important in Namibia. Maliehe is likely to start with one striker and it is vital Likuena’s midfielders provide a goal-threat if the strategy is to work.

Phafa Tšosane (Matlama)

The Matlama captain finds himself down the pecking order in Likuena’s midfield stakes but could yet find himself in the line-up in Namibia. His strengths are his immaculate passing, vision and set-piece delivery. However, whether he can cope with the physical demands of facing sides such as Angola and Malawi remains to be seen.

Mabuti Potloane (Matlama)

With Maliehe’s overhaul of the squad, Potloane now finds himself as the experienced head in the team. He is also likely to be its central creative fulcrum as the link between the midfield and the striker.

Strikers

Thabo Seakhoa (LCS)

Seakhoa worked himself into the Likuena squad thanks to his strong late season form. He is direct and strong and could turn out to be a key player if Maliehe seeks a more direct approach.

Tšepo Seturumane (LMPS)

Seturumane is the best finisher in the team and has experience of the COSAFA Cup having been part of the side that reached the semi-finals in 2013 in Zambia. He is likely to be Lesotho’s starting central striker on Sunday against Mauritius.

Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli)

Arguably the most exciting prospect in the team, Khutlang is an offensive machine. For now it appears as though his role may be to create havoc off the bench. However, he has the talent to light up the group stages.

Motebang Sera (Matlama)

Sera is in the Likuena team on the back of his sterling campaign with Matlama where he finished the season as the league’s top goalscorer with 14 goals. However, Sera struggled in recent friendlies against Swaziland and his place in the starting line-up may be under threat.

Lesotho’s COSAFA Cup Records:

Biggest win: Lesotho 2-0 Swaziland, 2013, Lusaka (Mojela Letsie, Tšepo Seturumane)

Biggest loss: Lesotho 0-3 Zimbabwe, 2000, Maseru. Zimbabwe 3-0 Lesotho, 2000, Bulawayo

Top all-time scorer: Thapelo Tale (four goals)

 

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