After winning the first two games, Lesotho caretaker coach Moses Maliehe says his side has set its sights on capturing the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia.
Likuena are top of Group B but face a do-or-die clash against Malawi this evening to decide who wins the group and progresses to the quarter-finals.
Currently, the sides are level with six points and the winner of the much-anticipated clash will meet South Africa in the quarters on Saturday.
Because of their superior goal difference, Likuena can also advance with a draw.
Speaking after Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Angola, Maliehe praised his side’s character. He admitted today’s game against Malawi will be tough but said Likuena are prepared and looking to go far in the tournament.
“I am really happy. The players are working hard and we want to achieve the things we have set, things we talked about. It is not going to be an easy game (against Malawi). Every team is determined to win the COSAFA and, just like any team, we are also determined to win the tournament,” Maliehe said.
Likuena started their campaign with a 3-0 rout of Mauritius on Sunday autographed by goals from Jeremea Kamela, Motebang Sera and Jane Thaba-Ntšo whose strike after just 34 seconds set the record for the fastest goal in the tournament’s history.
Lesotho’s second tie, against Angola, was a much closer affair but Maliehe’s charges ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Tumelo Khutlang and Hlompho Kalake.
Again Likuena looked a much improved side with Khutlang constantly putting the Angolan defence under pressure before he gave Lesotho the lead in the 11th minute.
Settled by Khutlang’s early goal, Likuena took control of the first half and were unlucky not to double their lead before the break.
The second half started with Angola taking the game to Lesotho in search of an equaliser.
However, Lesotho’s defence and goalkeeper Daniel Jousse held firm allowing Kalake to seal the game in the 80th minute from the penalty spot after the enterprising Khutlang was fouled.
Against Angola, Maliehe made only one change to the team that beat Mauritius with Sepiriti Malefane starting in defence in place of Kamela who limped off in the second half of the opening game.
It is unclear if the versatile midfielder will miss the clash against Malawi but what is clear is the side is high on confidence.
In two games, Likuena have scored five goals and conceded none and former national team coach, Leslie Notši, who guided Lesotho to the COSAFA Castle Cup semi-finals in 2013 in Zambia, said he has been following the team’s progress in Namibia.
Notši noted there is confidence within the team adding he is impressed with how the defence has been playing.
“They are playing really well. I am following their games in Namibia and I can say there is a lot of improvement within the team. There is confidence and the defence is playing with confidence. Another thing is they are winning games because they are scoring goals, they have an attacking plan,” he said.
Notši said Likuena need to stick to their style of play to overcome Malawi.
“I think they must go and enjoy themselves,” he added. “I am not saying they should just be playing, they must come with a game-plan but they must not put themselves under pressure. They must continue with what they are good at and stick to it,” he said.
On Malawi, Notši said: “I have been watching Malawi, they are very aggressive, physical and they run a lot. Likuena also have speed and they must use it to eliminate Malawi’s threat. (Likuena) must force them to play in their own half and make sure they score goals.”
The current Kick4Life coach reflected on his tenure with Likuena in 2013 when they reached the COSAFA Castle Cup semi-finals. He said the tournament offers a valuable opportunity to face quality opposition and varied styles of play.
“It was not easy at all (in 2013) because I remember we played Botswana, Kenya and Swaziland. You play teams that are still fresh and have been watching us play, and we come with injuries while they have not played. But, sometimes it’s good because by the time we meet them there is morale in the team,” he said.
“The COSAFA Cup gives you a chance to play against different teams (which is) something that is otherwise not easy to achieve even in a year. I think we played six games there (in Zambia) and that’s big.”
Notši concluded by singing Maliehe’s praises.
“Football needs a very brave person and I think he is brave, he was under pressure after losing (against Ethiopia) but they have bounced back. He got an agreement with (the Lesotho Football Association) and he is sticking to it and he is building the team. I wish him all the best in the COSAFA Cup,” Notši said.
COSAFA Castle Cup Group B standings:
Dicing with death
MASERU – spinning is a motorsport that originates in South Africa.
The pastime started in the 1980s in the country’s townships and was used mainly by gangsters as a way to show-off their stolen cars.
In the subsequent years, the sport has grown in popularity in South Africa’s neighbouring country and it has made its way to Lesotho.
Although spinning competitions are not held regularly in Lesotho, they always come with a huge fanfare and hundreds of supporters normally flock to its venues to watch drivers spinning, drifting and doing stunts.
It is a loud and mostly dangerous sport that has been labelled as the world’s most reckless sport.
It’s not just any car that is used in spinning, there are special cars that favourties for entertaining crowds.
The BMW 3-series famously known as Gusheshe owing to the brusque sound its engine makes are designed for the spin. Spinning enthusiasts say that BMW 3-series cars can be manipulated and their engines maintained easily.
Lately other people have started to opt for the V8 Toyota which they sport with BMW wheels.
In Lesotho, the shows are held at various places, including the Masianokeng filling station in Maseru. In 2021, Seisa Mohapi left the crowd yearning for more thrills, stunts and spins at Makoanyane Barracks and he emerged as a local favourite.
He has since gone on to make a career out of car spinning and because of the lack of competitions in Lesotho, Mohapi has to travel outside very often to compete.
Today, Mohapi, who is one the most famous spinners in Lesotho, is preparing for the Battle of the Nations competition to be held in Pretoria, South Africa, on April 29.
He is not a newbie to the competition. Last year he was the only Mosotho competing against drivers from the host country, Eswatini and Botswana.
One fascinating fact about Mohapi is that he was not into spinning cars until a friend urged him to join the sport because of his fast driving. Mohapi insists, however, that when he is driving on the road he is not as fast as he is on the track.
He may now be a well-recognised spinner, but it was a difficult road. Getting invitations to South African competitions was mission impossible in the beginning because the sport was not recognised in Lesotho.
The best Mohapi managed was competitions in Bloemfontein and Thaba-Nchu, before he eventually started getting invites to big events.
In 2018, he received his first invitation to attend big spinning events in Villiersdorp, Western Cape, and now the rest is history. He has travelled to several countries including Eswatini and Botswana.
Mohapi remembers: “(My friend) gave me an idea that you already have speed, if you can spin, you can do it well. From there I started spinning on the streets until we started taking it seriously, (we are) hosting events and joining spinning groups.”
When Mohapi is not throttling cars on weekends, during the week he has an office job at the Ministry of Social Development. He says his routine is between his job and spinning.
It is a costly passion.
Motorsport is one of the most expensive sports in the world because it requires fully operational engines and such are costly. Mohapi has no sponsor, he bears all the costs when it comes to his car. Luckily for Mohapi, he can repair cars which means the costs of fixing have not weighed as heavily on him as they otherwise would have.
“Even though spinning is a very expensive sport, I am still fully self-sponsored and it does not cost much on my pocket because I know how to repair cars. So, this is different to someone who waits on engineers when their cars crash,” Mohapi says.
“Because these cars are being used heavily, they kill engines a lot. The cheapest engines range from M3 000 to M4 000 so if you are buying them regularly it becomes expensive. The (engine) I am using is about M18 000 to M20 000 – I am hoping spinning will be recognised as a growing sport,” he continues.
In spinning contests, it is the host’s responsibility to provide participants with tyres, while the participants should make sure that their rims are fit for the performance. Many drivers have earned themselves a reputation with drifting, but that is not the case with Mohapi.
He enjoys spinning and doing stunts most and that has become his trademark.
“For the spin to be performed best, it requires skills,” Mohapi says.
“Some can draw the interest of the audience and some just drift and confuse the audience. When the audience cannot capture what you are doing, they keep themselves busy by buying refreshments,” he adds.
There is a difference between spinning and drifting. Spinning which is more popular is when drivers lock their cars into a spin and screech tyres and make clouds of smoke. They then climb out of the car to perform stunts while spinning.
Meanwhile, the internet defines drifting as a driving technique where the driver intentionally over-steers, with loss of traction, while maintaining control and driving the car through the entirety of a corner.
The technique causes the rear slip angle to exceed the front slip angle to such an extent that often the front wheels are pointing in the opposite direction to the turn. For example, if the car is turning left, the wheels are pointed right or vice versa.
Mohapi says spinning is all about entertainment, no one can be considered a winner, the only way to know if you did well is by the crowd’s reaction to your performance. South Africa is now preparing to host bigger spinning events in which there will be prize money given to participants who impress, and he says he is looking forward to it.
“All I can say is Basotho should support spin because their kids love it,” Mohapi enthuses.
“Their kids must know there is someone in Lesotho who spins and his name is Seisa. At these events there are really a lot of kids, it brings happiness to them.”
Bereng raring to go
MASERU – Likuena star midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng says it’s good for Likuena to go in the match against star-studded Zambia as underdogs despite winning the last encounter between the two countries.
The two southern African countries will face-off in back-to-back matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium on March 23 and 26 respectively.
Motebang Sera was the hero in the last match at the COSAFA Cup beating Kennedy Mweene twice to become Likuena’s all time leading goal-scorer in the regional tournament with six goals.
Bereng, who now plays his football for Eswatini giants, Mbabane Highlanders, makes a return to the Likuena squad since last year’s goalless draw against Ivory Coast, where he was an unused substitute.
“Look, it will be a totally different ball game to the one when we last played at the COSAFA Cup and they also know that it’s not going to be a walk in the park for them,” the midfielder said.
“We just have to approach the game with the same mindset we had against them two years ago in Port Elizabeth, which was self-belief and playing to our strength.”
Bereng, who had a long career playing in South Africa for the likes of Moroka Swallows, Chippa United and Black Leopards, admitted that Zambia are favourite on paper going into the two matches, but is adamant they can cause an upset like they did in holding star-studded Ivory Coast to a goalless draw.
“Of course, on paper they are favourites because they have a lot of players playing abroad such as Patson Daka of Leicester City, but like I said, self-belief is very important at this level of football,” Bereng said.
“I think for me it’s very good to be labelled underdogs, it takes the pressure away from us and gives us room to surprise them.
“They are going to be to tough games, but we have been there before and we know what we have to do to improve our position if we are to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations,” he said.
Likuena will host Eswatini in a training match this Thursday as both countries fine-tune their preparations for the upcoming 2023 Afcon matches.
Free show for football fans
MASERU – The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) has opened its gates to Basotho who want to watch the national team Likuena today. Lesotho hosts Eswatini this afternoon at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena in their last friendly match before they fly to Zambia.
This training match is part of Likuena’s preparation for the back-to-back 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Zambia in two weeks’ time.
Three weeks ago, Lesotho coach Veselin Jelusic and his charges travelled to Malawi for a friendly match which ended with a 1-1. At the time the Serbian coach said he wished for more games and today’s match will surely come in handy as it will help him to fine-tune mistakes Likuena made against Malawi.
The first leg match of the AFCON qualifier against Zambia will be played at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on March 23, with the return leg set for Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto on March 26th. Lesotho needs to win at least one of the two games to stand any chance of qualifying.
After two AFCON qualifying games, Likuena are bottom of Group H which also includes Comoros and Ivory Coast.
Like Likuena, Eswatini is also preparing to take on Cape Verde in their AFCON qualifying campaigns on March 24 and 28 respectively.
LEFA has invited Basotho to come and watch their team free of charge as this could be their last chance to watch Likuena on their home soil until Setsoto Stadium is upgraded to meet international standards.
Because of the unavailability of the national stadium Likuena have been forced to play their home matches in South Africa.
Likuena lost 2-0 away to Comoros in their opener but played to a spirited 0-0 draw with giants Ivory Coast at ‘home’. Both games were played last June.
Two of Likuena’s foreign based players have already joined up with the team. Lead striker Motebang Sera, who is still recovering from a minor injury that side-lined him for his South African premiership club Royal AM, is with the team. He missed his team’s 5-1 clobbering by Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday. Tšoarelo Bereng, who is also based across the border, is another one that is now in camp with Likuena.
Richards Bay striker Katleho Makateng is yet to link up with the team, he is expected to be part of the Richards Bay squad that will take on TS Galaxy in the DSTV Premiership in Mpumalanga on Sunday. He will be allowed to join Likuena after and is expected to be a key figure against Zambia.
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