MASERU – Lesotho national team coach Thabo Senong has named a 21-man squad for this month’s second leg showdown against Zimbabwe in the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers.
The match is scheduled to be played at Setsoto Stadium on October 20.
Likuena suffered a 3-1 away defeat in the first leg last Sunday and if they are to qualify for their first-ever continental tournament they have to beat the Warriors by at least two goals and without conceding at home.
Senong selected his squad last week but has already been dealt two injury blows with Tšepo Toloane and Makara Ntaitsane forced to withdraw from the original list. In their place Senong has called up Bantu’s Neo Mokhachane and Kick4Life’s Tšeliso Botsane.
On Tuesday, Senong explained why he made changes to the team that lost in Zimbabwe.
The South African coach said Likuena needed more creativity in midfield which opened the door for Liphakoe’s Mohau Rammoneng who has been a consistent performer for his club this season.
Senong also said Lesotho could have conceded more than three goals in Harare because the Zimbabwean attack was much stronger than Likuena’s defence which meant the defensive department had to be reinforced ahead of the second leg.
“We obviously made some new inclusions in the team because after the 3-1 loss to Zimbabwe we realised that our team still had challenges in defence, in attack and even in the midfield we are not creative enough,” Senong said.
“We just felt that we needed to try and add players that can help us because they are doing well for their respective clubs; I am talking about players like Mohau (Rammoneng) who can offer a bit of creativity in the midfield as we saw him perform for Liphakoe and Litšepe (Marabe), he is creative and we need to be dangerous in set-plays and he has been doing that for Bantu,” the Likuena coach added.
“In defence we could have conceded maybe about six goals, (the) Zimbabwean attackers were too strong for us hence we brought the experience of Kopano Tseka and he is also doing well for LCS,” he said.
Senong said the changes to Likuena have been made looking at the system they want to play and the players’ performances. There is also an eye on the start of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers in November where Lesotho has been drawn in Group L alongside Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Benin.
“When we make inclusions we look at the mental readiness of the players,” Senong said.
“Let’s try to exclude some players and add some because we feel the game is not over yet. I still believe the away goal helped us a lot and we are approaching this game with the hope that we can win it without conceding,” he continued.
“Hopefully we can go through but we know that we still have a lot of work and time is against us. The AFCON qualifiers are also close in a month’s time, so we have been trying to come up with a system that can help us against Zimbabwe in the second leg, but it is the system and the playing personnel that will help us against Sierra Leone and Nigeria,” Senong explained.
Likuena are also trying to secure a friendly match against another country before they host Zimbabwe because it will help them prepare mentally and tactically, the coach said.
Senong said there is a possibility there could be more additions to the team in the remaining two weeks and he has not closed doors on anyone to represent Likuena.
Initially only two goalkeepers, Likano Mphuthi and Ntsane Lichaba, had been called to the national team but Senong has added a third goalkeeper this week in Sekhoane Moerane of Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS).
“I must be honest, the injuries that we got this weekend of Toloane and Ntaitsane were unfortunate injuries that we didn’t plan for, but with the exclusion of players we are always looking at the opposition, we are always looking at the new system that we are going to play, we also look at the readiness and the discipline of the players,” Senong said.
“We are still going to exclude some (players) and we are still going to include some, but the criteria is different, we don’t look at potential, talent or ability only, we also look at the character of the players we are bringing in,” he added.
“When you want to build a winning team we must start winning in training (and) in the dressing room. We need harmony in camp, we need an excellent team spirit (and) that is the reason why we excluded a lot of players.”
Senong explained: “(The players’ selection) is based on their performances in our system and it is also based on character and discipline as well but we have not closed a door for any other player we can still bring other players.
All players that are part of the Premier League in Lesotho are eligible to be selected based on their performances on the field and their behaviour off the field. With the injuries that have occurred expect more changes, expect further additional personnel we might include because of the situation we are facing in these two weeks of preparations.”
Likano Mphuthi (LDF), Ntsane Lichaba (Bantu), Sekhoane Moerane (LMPS)
Mohai Mohai, Lisema Lebokollane (Matlama), Bokang Sello (Bantu), Basia Makepe, Nkau Lerotholi (LMPS), Kopano Tseka (LCS), Rethabile Rasethuntša (Linare)
Thabo Seakhoa (LCS), Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Litšepe Marabe, Hlompho Kalake, Neo Mokhachane (Bantu), Mohau Rammoneng (Liphakoe), Phafa Tšosane, Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama)
Tšepo Seturumane (LMPS), Mokone Marabe (Bantu), Tšeliso Botsane (Kick4Life)
Rabale eyes Champions League glory
Lesotho women’s team captain Boitumelo Rabale has her eyes on winning her second CAF Women’s Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns as the tournament gets underway this weekend.
The third edition of the prestigious women’s club football is scheduled for Ivory Coast from November 5-19, where eight clubs will battle it out to be crowned Queens of the continent.
“Queen”, as the Lesotho star is commonly known, was part of the Sundowns squad that was crowned champions of the inaugural edition of the tournament held in Egypt two years ago, becoming the first player from the Mountain Kingdom to taste Champions League success.
She has become one of the key players in Jerry Tshabalala’s squad having walked away with the Hollywoodbets Player of the Season in the previous campaign and currently leads the goal-scoring charts with 21 goals.
“It was exciting to win the CAF Women’s Champions League with Sundowns two years ago and in the process becoming the first player from Lesotho to do so,” Rabale said.
“I felt very lucky and honoured to make history. It gave me confidence to continue working hard and strive for more success with the club”
Sundowns head to the tournament as regional champions after clinching the COSAFA qualifiers to qualify for the continental showpiece, where they will kickstart their campaign against Tanzania’s JKT Queens on Sunday.
Rabale admitted that memories of losing the last final to AS FAR still haunts them, but they head to Ivory Coast a better team than in the last tournament.
“We learnt the hard way when we lost in the final to AS FAR and we come back a better team having rectified our mistakes.
“It’s our dream to conquer the continent again and I have no doubt that we have what it takes to get our second star in Ivory Coast.
“It will be very good to add the second CAF Champions League medal to my trophy cabinet,” she said.
The 27-year-old has been prolific for Sundowns this campaign having scored nine goals in her last five matches to take her tally for this campaign to 21 goals.
Sundowns are in Group A alongside tournament hosts, Athletico Abidjan, Sporting Casablanca of Morocco, as well as Tanzania’s JKT Queen.
Since joining Sundowns in 2021, Rabale has won the Hollywoodbets Super League twice, the COSAFA Zonal qualifiers twice as well as the CAF Women’s Champions League and is the reigning Hollywoodbets Player of the season.
Red Skins fail to raise funds for championship
Lesotho volleyball giants Red Skins have failed to raise funds for the 2023 Zone 6 Senior Indoor Volleyball Club Championship they are set to host in December.
Red Skins will host the competition together with four other local volleyball clubs – Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), Lesotho Mounted Police Station (LMPS) and Rivers – and the tournament is expected to start on December 7 and end 10 days later.
Without any funds or sponsors coming in, Red Skins will have to foot the bill from their pockets for the tournament which will see teams from 10 countries converge on Maseru.
Among the participating nations, Botswana is expected to bring the biggest contingent with 12 teams, with Zambia following closely behind with nine teams while Zimbabwe is set to be represented by six teams.
Two weeks ago, Red Skins participated in the Elite Cup in Gauteng, South Africa, which was hosted by Aqua Darshan Volleyball.
Red Skins hoped to win the tournament and return home with a hefty jackpot but they only collected M5 000 which was won by the men’s team.
A gala dinner that Red Skins hosted last weekend also failed to generate income due to low attendance and speaking to thepost on Tuesday, the club’s vice-captain, Moleboheng Mofolo, said they will have to push on with what they have to host the tournament.
Mofolo said they no longer have time to come up with other means to raise funds.
“Tournaments will require us to find sponsorships and we do not have time now, we have to focus and train well,” Mofolo said.
“Our coach already told us to camp from this week but rain is our biggest challenge because we cannot continue with the training,” she added.
Mofolo said Red Skins are fortunate that participating teams are going to take care of their accommodation and catering. She said if Red Skins had to provide those services, they would not have been able to manage.
She pleaded with individuals, organisations and companies to help the team, whether it is by offering accommodation, food, or whatever little they may have.
Giants avoid each other in Top 4 clash
Women Super League (WSL) giants Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies and Kick4Life Ladies have avoided each other in the WSL Top 4 knockout competition.
The two-day showpiece takes centre stage this weekend at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and it will see last season’s top four finishers in the league – LDF, Kick4Life, Lijabatho and Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) Ladies – go head-to-head for bragging rights.
The draw for the competition took place last Friday and the semi-finals will see LDF go up against Lijabatho while Kick4Life will take on LMPS Ladies.
Both semi-finals will be played on Saturday with the tournament culminating the following day.
Sunday’s proceedings will kick-off with a third-place playoff game to determine who walks away with the bronze medals before the final later in the day.
All four games over the two days will be streamed on the FIFA+ website and the WSL Top 4 will usher in a new sponsor this year.
In the past, the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) fully bankrolled the competition, however, Computer Business Solutions (CBS) has come on board with a sponsorship for the first time.
The competition’s prize monies have not been revealed because they are still being finalised, but, speaking at last Friday’s draw, LEFA’s associations secretary general, Mokhosi Mohapi, said the relationship with CBS is one that sport should engage in.
Mohapi added his hopes that the relationship will be a long-term one.
“While others are busy at their thing, we should really grow ours so that when their distraction finally ends, they find us as united as we can be as the football community,” Mohapi said.
“(We should be) united by the efforts and inputs that emanate from the business community, especially when it is a truly Lesotho business entity because other (foreign entities) are here to take money,” he said.
Addressing CBS as the tournament’s sponsor, Mohapi said: “We are thankful as LEFA for your initiative; (we) hope you will be in this marriage quite long. We know we are just testing the waters but we have a lot that can entice you to stay longer, not only my command but the instruments that we have.”
Mohapi said LEFA’s dream is that in two years’ time all league matches will be streaming on the FIFA+ platform which was launched last April by football’s world governing body to increase exposure of men and women’s football around the globe.
Currently, only three grounds in the country have the structures for broadcasting; Bambatha as well as the grounds at LDF and Lesotho Correctional Service grounds, and all are in Maseru.
LEFA plans to add more grounds to the list with the DIFA facilities in Maputsoe and Mohale’s Hoek set to be the first to follow suit.
“All our women’s competitions, cup competitions and (Vodacom) Premier League matches that will be played in those stadia that have our infrastructure – we will be able to stream those games internationally,” Mohapi said.
“We have extended our footprint,” he added.
“We are now doing LDF – we have already put up the structure – then we are moving to Maputsoe and, hopefully, Mohale’s Hoek. It is our desire that in two years’ time we will hopefully cover all the matches and put them on the FIFA+ streaming platform.”
WSL Top 4 fixtures:
Lijabatho Ladies vs. LDF Ladies
LMPS Ladies vs. Kick4Life Ladies
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