Likuena’s big test

Likuena’s big test

………Victory against Cape Verde could seal AFCON qualification………..

MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has spent a fortune on Likuena’s preparations for their final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Cup (AFCON) qualifier against Cape Verde on Sunday.
The match is the biggest in the country’s football history with a victory guaranteed to seal Lesotho’s place in the continental showpiece for the first time ever.

The crunch tie will be played at the Estádio Nacional de Cabo Verde Praia in Praia and will be televised on SuperSport channel 211 for viewers at home.
It is the final encounter of Group L where Lesotho lies in second place behind leaders Uganda who have already qualified for the 2019 AFCON finals slated for Egypt between June 15 and July 13.
Lesotho has five points from five games and is level on points with Tanzania. However, Likuena are ahead of the Taifa Stars by virtue of a superior goal difference thanks to a 1-0 win over Tanzania at Setsoto Stadium in November.
With Likuena’s stakes at an all-time high, LEFA says it has left no stone unturned to ensure the national side has the best possible preparations.

Speaking on Tuesday, LEFA’s president, Advocate Salemane Phafane, revealed the association has shelled out roughly M500 000 on Likuena’s build-up to the Cape Verde tie including a week-long camp in Pretoria, South Africa.
Moses Maliehe and his charges left for Pretoria last Friday and Phafane said LEFA wanted the team to be away from any distractions they may encounter here at home and to solely focus on Sunday’s pivotal game.
Phafane added that LEFA has worked hand in hand with the Ministry of Sports to facilitate Likuena’s preps and he lauded the government for its support.

“To prepare the team for the Cape Verde game only, as the association we have spent about M500 000 to M600 000,” he said.
“It was not a one man show to prepare for this game. The media, you have played your part; you have kept the team in good spirits and kept the nation informed. The ministry of sports takes credit; they have played their role within their means.
“Importantly, I should thank the clubs. The league has been very cooperative, and if they continue to be cooperative we can take our football places,” Phafane said.

Phafane revealed Likuena’s players are in line to receive huge bonuses should they book a place at the 2019 AFCON.
On top of the jackpot the players are set to receive if they win Sunday’s game, the team will get their usual allowances, or ‘mofao’ as Phafane put it, for the days spent during their week-long camp along with M6 000 for each player before they leave for the match in Cape Verde.

“I have already mentioned that we are together with the ministry (of sports) in the expenses of the team and there is one last part that is going to the players by way of incentives,” he said.
“To remind you, the tickets to Cape Verde cost M700 000, that’s over and above the preparation I was talking about. As they leave they will get their usual ‘mofao’, that’s what we call, it in addition to the usual allowances for all the days they spent here at Bambatha, in Pretoria and the days they will spend in Cape Verde.

“In addition to those usual allowances, each player will get M6 000 when they leave Pretoria. If they win, in addition to everything, they will then get M16 000. Now we have to thank the ministry (of sports) because they worked hard and they were always ready to assist, so this is how they will be remunerated. But, who knows, I have been in football for a long time; if (Likuena) win I suspect they will be inundated with assistance and support from everywhere even from business,” said the LEFA boss.

Phafane urged the nation to back Likuena all the way.
“We should also accept they may not win. If they don’t win, do we hate them? Do we like them less? No, we like them the most even when they don’t win,” Phafane said.
“I am preparing you; I am also preparing myself to not have a heart attack. There must be one winner. We all want the winner to be us but it may be that we may not be the winners, but we would have fought to the bitter end,” he said.

“We are all wishing Likuena to do well. The qualification is in their hands not on other people and where they are at the moment they are in the final stage. I don’t remember how many times as a country we have reached this stage. So, first of all, it is a huge achievement for us as a country to have reached this stage. For us to proceed is solely on how we perform and how God is listening to our prayers, we have to hold on to prayers.”
“Us, Tanzania, Cape Verde; one of us is free to take the qualification, anyone of us and we are in good position to take that qualification. The only one to have qualified in our group is Uganda, you know the other three are still in one pot,” Phafane said.

“If we win that game we are home and dry, I don’t want to do mathematics that if we draw and that one loses, I am not interested in those. For me we have to win, if we win we are home and dry, not a draw. A draw may take us some place I don’t know. I am not interested in it,” Phafane added.
“We should not lose and we are wishing our team all the luck and we ask the whole nation to be one and pray. It will be an honour, not for the Lesotho Football Association, not to you the media but to the whole Basotho nation, so we wish them all the best.”

Tlalane Phahla

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