Lioli communications and marketing manager Tšeliso Lerata has called Kick4Life “preparation” for Lioli’s mega clash against Matlama.
The champions face Kick4Life on Saturday at Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground in a must-win game as they go head-to-head in the battle for the title with ‘Tse Putsoa’.
Lerata insisted Lioli will respect Kick4Life but admitted ‘Tse Nala’ already have one eye on the meeting with rivals Matlama next weekend.
“We respect Kick4Life, they are a premier league team and there is no small team but we are going to win the game and take three points as we are preparing for the big one against Matlama. We are winning the league next week after we beat Matlama, that’s the game we are looking forward to,” Lerata told thepost yesterday.
Lioli and Kick4Life met in November and the game ended in a goalless draw, a result Lerata lamented.
“We played with them (Kick4Life) in the first round and we should have won that game, we had all the ball possession. I could give them 10 percent (ball possession) and give Lioli 90 percent, but we failed to win it,” he said.
Lerata revealed Tumelo Khutlang is doubtful for the Kick4Life match but said it would be good for the club if he the exciting winger rests as they need all their best players next week.
“Makhopo is the only doubt for this game; he was taken to Bloemfontein yesterday to see a doctor. I personally would love to see him rest this weekend and come back for the game against Matlama,” Lerata said.
Kick4Life’s striker Thabiso Brown, however, sent a chilling warning to the defending champions insisting the Old Europa club is also looking to secure maximum points this weekend.
Kick4Life, in sixth place with 31 points, are looking to secure their first ever top eight finish.
Under the tutelage of former Lesotho mentor Leslie Notši, they appear well poised to do so.
Notši was appointed as Kick4Life’s coach last November after a stint with South African National First Division (NFD) outfit Mthatha Bucks and a successful tenure as Likuena boss.
Brown said Notši’s tactical experience has translated to the team and he said Lioli also have weaknesses which can be exploited.
“Of course they (Lioli) are a good team, but we have studied them. We know our opponents. We know their weaknesses and we will be looking to exploit them,” he said.
For his part, Notši insisted the points his side have collected are not enough and he stressed the importance of winning their remaining matches.
If Kick4Life are to halt a free-scoring Lioli outfit, much will depend on the central defensive duo of Mbo Mukete and captain Thamahane Moruti.
Notši, however, said there will be no special preparation for the game against ‘Tse Nala’ and he encouraged his charges to enjoy the moment.
“Lioli are very good team performance-wise and we just want to go play and enjoy our game. They are the defending champions and pressure is on them not us. However, we will give them the respect they deserve. Playing against a big team like Lioli is an opportunity for us and I will tell my boys to go and enjoy the moment,” Notši said.
Kick4Life will be without Morapeli Lesoetsa who received his matching orders against Likila United last Saturday. Notši said Lesoetsa was carrying a slight injury and called the red card a blessing in disguise for Lesoetsa.
“I think the red card came at the right time. It will help him rest and the two weeks that he will be out he will be nursing his injury and will be back for our last two games. It gives him time to heal,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matlama’s communications and marketing manager Tankiso Moletsane has warned his team not to take Liphakoe for granted ahead of the sides’ clash on Saturday.
“We are focused on Liphakoe now, we want to win this game, and then we can focus on Lioli,” he said.
Lerata also extolled Matlama’s midfield and strikers. He said their form is the reason the club is confident about claiming league honours.
“If you look at Matlama, from midfield to our strikers, that’s where we are very dangerous. Look at the top goal-scorers in the league, they are all Matlama players which means we are scoring goals,” he beamed.
Weekend Vodacom Premier League fixtures:
Matlama vs. Liphakoe (TBC)
Likila United vs. LDF (Butha-Buthe)
Rovers vs. LCS (Roma)
Kick4Life vs. Lioli (LCS Ground)
Mphatlalatsane vs. LMPS (MaputsoeDiFA Stadium)
Bantu vs. Linare (LCS Ground)
Sandawana vs. Likhopo (Butha-Buthe)
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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