A potential star goalkeeper was born last season in the form of Kick4Life stopper Sele Thetsane.
A relative unknown just 12 months ago, Thetsane was named goalkeeper of the season at last week’s Vodacom Premier League 2015/16 season awards.
Thetsane beat out favourites Kananelo Makhooane of champions Lioli and Lesotho number one, Daniel Jousse, of Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS).
As he sits to speak with thepost, the 21-year-old admits he was not expecting the honour.
“I am very happy to have won the award; I was hopeful that I would win. When I realised that I was nominated in the category I realised I had a chance, but given the people I was up against I must admit I was hopeful, but I was not expecting it,” he says.
That is probably because Thetsane was not even Kick4Life’s first choice keeper when the season began.
In the 2014/15 season under Motlalepula Majoro, which was Kick4Life’s debut top-flight campaign, Thetsane started just three matches and played second fiddle to Rorisang Moabi.
Even when Moabi was loaned to Sky Battalion last year, Thetsane was not assured of a place in Kick4Life’s starting line-up.
Thetsane finally got his big break after Leslie Notši replaced Majoro as coach last November and he has not looked back.
Thetsane was the biggest winner at Kick4Life’s awards ceremony last month where he gave a moving acceptance speech after he won the club’s player of the season award.
“It has been a tough journey for me to be where I am. I struggled for game time and I have always wanted a chance to prove myself that I can do better,” Thetsane said at the ceremony. “It’s not about me, it’s teamwork, team effort and I would like thank our goalkeeper coach and the other goalkeepers here at Kick4Life.”
It has indeed not been an easy journey for Thetsane and it is perhaps why he remains humble despite being touted as Lesotho’s next goalkeeping star.
Thetsane stresses that team success comes first before individual brilliance. He wants the budding Kick4Life to keep improving, he tells thepost.
“I am always working hard for the club. I want Kick4Life to be better and better every day, that’s what I want for the club,” he says.
“This award has brought a challenge to me, it means I have to improve my performance this coming season and make sure I don’t drop, and I am going to work hard for it.”
He is on the right track.
Two weeks ago national goalkeeper coach Matsoai Shokhoe tipped Thetsane to become one of the best goalkeepers the country has ever produced.
If that high praise was not enough, there is already an outcry for Thetsane to be given an opportunity to challenge for a place in the Likuena team.
“I think I have been asked that question if I am ready for the challenge of the national team many times before. Even now I don’t think I have a straight answer to it,” he says calmly. “A national call-up comes after hard work and, like I said, I want to continue working hard. A call up to the national team will be a cherry on top.”
He adds: “I don’t want to say I am ready or not for the national team but I will accept the challenge and work hard to prove myself.”
With the Vodacom Premier League season done and dusted, a guarded Thetsane does reveal there is one player who gave him a “tough time” last term. That player is Matlama attacking midfielder Jane Thaba-Ntšo who scored twice past Thetsane last season.
“I can’t say there is a certain player that I am afraid of in the league because it’s football, I think anyone can score. I don’t focus on individual players, I don’t panic when a certain player has the ball at his feet, but I must admit that there is one player last season I think gave me a tough time because he scored against me twice, it’s Jane Thaba-Ntšo,” Thetsane says.
In terms of his role models, Thetsane says he styles his game on two goalkeepers, Kaizer Chiefs’ Itumeleng Khune and Bayern Munich star Manuel Neuer, whom he says are the best in the business.
In fact, it is his obsession with the two keepers that has earned him the nickname ‘Khune’ from his teammates.
“I only watch two goalkeepers and to me they are the best. I have copied a lot of things from them,” Thetsane beams.
“In South Africa I only watch Itumeleng Khune. I like his flexibility and his good reflexes and he also has good distribution (of the ball). You can see him when he is holding the ball; Khune doesn’t just kick a ball, he passes the ball. He also has good communication with his defence. This is one thing that I have copied from him. He doesn’t shout all time, he whistles and I think even the Kaizer Chiefs defence now know what he is saying when he whistles to them. I love him.”
He continues: “Manuel Neuer is the only keeper I watch abroad. He is brave. Neuer is not just a keeper, he is also part of the defence and he knows how to deal with crosses. He is a complete goalkeeper. He has got height, he is not afraid to take risks. In every one-on-one situation he has got a 60 percent advantage (against the opponent). Those are the two goalkeepers that I am always trying to model my game around.”
Locally, Thetsane says he does not like to compare keepers in the league. He says they are a brotherhood and are always learning from each other.
“I think as goalkeepers, regardless of the teams we play for, we are a family. We all have our good and bad side and we are always talking and helping each other to grow,” Thetsane says.
For Thetsane the 2016/17 season certainly represents another opportunity to grow and move towards his undoubted potential.
Mohlolo rescues point for LDF Ladies
A last-gasp strike by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies striker ‘Maseriti Mohlolo rescued a point for the Women’s Super League (WSL) champions against Malawi’s Ntopwa in the opener of their CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA Qualifiers yesterday.
Mohlolo’s goal keeps LDF Ladies in contention to progress to the next round with two teams from the four-team group set to qualify for the semi-finals.
Although LDF Ladies were not outplayed in the game, they missed many chances and their set-pieces left a lot to be desired.
Maybe that can be attributed to a last minute coaching change that saw Pule Khojane replace Lengana Nkhethoa as head coach of a side that won the WSL unbeaten last season.
Speaking after the game, Khojane said even though he realised early on that the Malawian team were tough physically, he still wanted LDF Ladies to play their normal passing game.
In the end, Khojane was left to lament the number of chances his side created but couldn’t convert.
Khojane said that will be a point of emphasis before LDF Ladies step onto the field again tomorrow against Botswana’s Double Action.
Tomorrow’s tie is probably a must-win with the group’s other team being defending champions Green Buffaloes of Zambia and LDF Ladies will need to convert their chances.
“We play with four at the back but with two attacking full backs, most of the time if a team plays long balls like (Ntopwa) we struggle a lot but we don’t change our game. We want to play; we want to go forward.
“That’s why sometimes we made a lot of mistakes when the ball was played high behind our backs but we still wanted to play our game and win. We were just unfortunate not to score more goals but we were playing (well),” Khojane said.
LDF conceded a late goal in the first half and were perhaps lucky to go into the half time break just a goal down.
Before Ntopwa took the lead they were awarded a penalty for a reckless foul in the box but they missed the chance to open the scoring.
LDF recovered in the second that but could not find a way into the goals.
It looked as if Lesotho’s representatives at the regional showpiece would begin their campaign with a defeat. However, Mohlolo rescued the Lesotho champions when she latched onto a poor back pass from a defender. She stole the ball and levelled matters with less than three minutes to go.
There was no time for the LDF to get a winner and they had to settle for a point in their opening group game.
They will now be looking to improve and sharpen their scoring boots for tomorrow’s showdown against Double Action of Botswana.
LDF Ladies fixtures:
LDF Ladies 1-1 Ntopwa
Double Action vs. LDF Ladies
Green Buffaloes vs. LDF Ladies
Makepe quits Likuena duty
Likuena captain Basia Makepe has retired from international football after leading the senior national team to silver at the recent COSAFA Cup tournament held in Durban, South Africa.
This was the first time since 2000 that Likuena had reached the final of the regional tournament where they lost 1-0 to Zambia.
The Leribe born defender will go down as one of the most decorated defenders in the country having represented his country 87 times and winning several accolades in the process.
Makepe’s leadership skills were spotted from a young age, where he was appointed captain of the national U-20 team, Makoanyane XI by Leslie Notši.
He led by example as Makoanyane XI qualified for the CAF Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2011, which in those days was knowns as the African Youth Championship, where the side eliminated countries like Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya to qualify for the tournament.
Makepe won his first Likuena cap in a 2-1 victory over Eswatini during an international friendly match played at Setsoto Stadium in October 2012 and went on to make the squad for the 2013 COSAFA Cup in Zambia.
However, Makepe was an unused substitute at the tournament as Notši went for the tried and tested defenders such as Moitheri Ntobo, Tlali Maile and Thabo Masualle as Likuena reached the semi-finals.
He would later be appointed the Likuena captain as coach Moses Maliehe went for a younger generation at the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia, where Likuena won all their group stage matches but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Shakes Mashaba-coached Bafana Bafana.
Makepe has not only enjoyed success with the national team but won several domestic trophies at Lioli, where he was also handed the captaincy after joining from boyhood club and now defunct Joy FC.
After leaving Lioli, he joined the police outfit, LMPS FC, where he is employed as a police officer and believes he still has a few years left in his tank playing for Simunye, as the police outfit is affectionately known.
“I think I have had a career that you can say was decent and can be accepted as satisfying to the football fraternity,” Makepe said.
“For me I can say it was a good career that has had challenges here and there as well as successes here and there, which started way back with the Under-20 team.
“With Makoanyane XI, we became the second team to qualify for the Africa Youth Championship and fortunately I had the honour of being the captain of that team.”
The 32-year-old, who has come up against the best forwards on the continent from the young Mohamed Salah during the 2011 Under-20 Africa Youth Championship to the likes of Victor Osimhen, Riyad Mahrez, has singled out former Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Pitroipa as the most troublesome opponent he has faced.
“I have come up against the best from this continent from the likes of Salah and others, but I think Pitroipa of Burkina Faso was the most troublesome forward I have come up against,” he said.
“I think the successes with the senior team especially as the captain are many having reached the COSAFA semi-finals a number of times with Likuena and twice going unbeaten in the group stage in Zambia 2013 and Namibia 2016 respectively.
“Being the captain of the team was the cherry on top and getting bronze medal in 2018. I end my chapter with Likuena having played a role in helping the team get to the final for the first time in 23 years,” he said.
Makepe admitted that the 2016 edition of the COSAFA tournament was very special for him as it was the first he captained the side and they won all their group stage matches.
“The COSAFA tournament in Namibia in 2016 stands out for me especially that game against South Africa, which unfortunately we lost on penalties, but it was a good tournament overall,” he said.
“All in all, I think it was a very satisfying career with the national team though you always want more as a player. I’m happy to bow out having helped Likuena re-write history. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life.
“I’m very grateful to all who have supported me throughout my career, my teammates, coaches, administrators and the supporters, who were always by our side and of course the Lesotho Football Association for giving me the opportunities to lead the national team,” he said.
Notši picks squad for Ivory Coast tie
Lesotho interim coach Leslie Notši has named a provisional 27-man squad for the side’s final 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Ivory Coast which is scheduled for September 9.
By virtue of being the hosts of next year’s showpiece, Ivory Coast have already qualified for the tournament while Likuena no longer have a chance of joining them after back-to-back defeats with Zambia in June.
With nothing to play with but pride, Likuena can draw inspiration from their performance when the sides met in their first Group H encounter last June which ended in a goalless draw.
The match was played in Soweto and Lesotho’s memorably dogged display against their much more fancied opponents is something Notši’s charges can look to for inspiration.
Several new faces could feature in that return game in Ivory Coast.
Fresh off last month’s COSAFA Cup final display, Notši has called up some fresh blood to bolster the squad such as Khubetsoana Kamela, Tšeliso Botsane and Teboho Letsema who have each represented Lesotho’s junior teams but are yet to make the leap to the senior side.
Notši’s squad also includes the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) trio of Morena Moloi, Lebesa Lebesa and Victor Ferreira who have been called up to the national team set-up for the first time in their careers.
The most surprising inclusion is perhaps that of Ferreira who spent the majority of last season making cameo appearances from the LDF substitutes’ bench.
Speaking with LEFA’s media team, Notši said the new faces are intended to give him depth going into the 2024 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifiers which start in September and are reserved only for locally based players.
It means the handful of Likuena players plying their trade outside the country will be ineligible to play. The first round of the 2024 CHAN qualifiers is set to begin from September 22 to 24.
“We all know that AFCON qualification is out of our reach and the bigger picture is to prepare the team for the CHAN qualifiers, which are coming very soon,” Notši said.
“Most of these boys have come through the ranks playing for our junior national team and it’s the association’s investment that needs to be given a chance to grow,” the Lesotho mentor added.
The 27-man Likuena squad will be trimmed down to a manageable size towards the side’s departure to Ivory Coast, but the core of the players that went to the COSAFA Cup in July are expected to retain their places in the team.
Likuena have a busy schedule ahead with the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers also in the pipeline this year. Notši needs to have as strong a team as possible to compete in all the competitions.
Likuena provisional squad:
Sekhoane Moerane, Teboho Ratibisi, Mosoeu Seahlolo.
Rethabile Senkoto, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Mohlomi Makhetha, Rethabile Mokokoane, Rethabile Rasethuntša, Lebesa Lebesa, ‘Mellere Lebetša.
Lisema Lebokollane, Khubetsoana Kamele, Tšeliso Botsane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Thabo Lesaoana, Tumelo Makha, Koenehelo Mothala, Tšepang Sefali, Victor Ferreira, Tshwarelo Bereng, Teboho Letsema, Neo Mokhachance, Tšepo Toloane, Morena Moloi.
Thabiso Mari, Jane Thabantšo, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng.
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