Lesotho is still on a high after the COSAFA Castle Cup where Likuena reached the quarterfinals.
One of the team’s stars was goalkeeper Daniel Jousse who expertly marshalled Likuena’s defence and conceded just once in 360 minutes of action.
The man behind some of that success is Matsoai Shokhoe, Lesotho’s goalkeeper coach since 2014.
Shokhoe’s stint in mentoring the country’s best keepers is the next chapter for the 33-year-old Mazenod native who featured for Matlama from 2005 until 2013, a productive decade that included a league title in 2010.
During his conversation with thepost Shokhoe is relentlessly enthusiastic about the state of keepers in Lesotho.
It is clear he is a student of the craft and it is this passion that led Shokhoe to pursue a career in coaching after he decided to hang his gloves. And, although it is at times difficult for footballers to transition after retirement, Shokhoe got his break quickly when he was appointed Matlama goalkeeper coach in June 2014.
The early results are solid.
Under his mentorship ‘Tse Putsoa’ boast several promising goalkeepers on their books headed by current first choice Makhetha Thakeli and backup Kabelo Lichaba who is 22.
Shokhoe has high hopes for the 28-year-old Thakeli.
“After I retired I decided to become a goalkeeper coach because I wanted to pass the knowledge I have to other goalkeepers out there,” he explains. “I have been with Matlama for a very long time, from 2005 until 2013 when I retired and started pursuing a coaching job in 2014.”
On Makhetha, Shokhoe continues: “He lacks some attributes but they are things we can work on in terms of handling the ball and dealing with crosses. But, he has potential to become a good goalkeeper.”
Shokhoe’s work at Pitso Ground runs concurrently with duties with the national team. He was appointed Lesotho’s keeper trainer in late 2014 by previous coach Seephephe Matete. And, despite Matete being replaced last November, Shokhoe has kept his job under new caretaker boss Moses Maliehe.
It is a job that comes with different challenges, he says.
“It’s challenging working with different goalkeepers from different clubs at the national teams because sometimes you find that there are no goalkeeper coaches where they come from.”
However, it is also exciting.
Shokhoe sees a boom of young, talented goalkeepers in Lesotho and among them he rates Lesotho Correctional Service keeper Jousse as the best shot stopper in the country.
Jousse played four matches at the COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia and only conceded his first goal in the 65th minute of Lesotho’s quarterfinal against South Africa after keeping three clean-sheets in the group stage.
Shokhoe says Jousse’s reflexes and positioning were central to his brilliant performances at the tournament.
“For me I would say Daniel Jousse is the best. He has the attributes of a good goalkeeper; he can organise his defence, deal with crosses and knows how to position himself which I think really helped him in Namibia and allowed him to perform the way he did, although I still have to credit the defence for a good job,” he says.
Shokhoe is visibly proud of Jousse’s display.
“I always want the goalkeeper I am coaching to win the best goalkeeper award,” he states. “Even when I went to Namibia I wanted my goalkeeper to be named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. At Matlama it is still the same, I wanted Makhetha to be the best last season.”
The challenge now is to build on the high standards set in Namibia and one aspect Lesotho’s keepers have to overcome is a lack of height.
It was, for instance, one of the reasons Jousse was replaced by Liteboho Mokhehle just before Lesotho’s penalty shootout loss to South Africa.
“I advised the coach to take out Jousse before the penalties,” Shokhoe reveals. “Liteboho has height that I thought could work for us in the penalty shootout. But, of course, penalties do go with a little bit of luck.”
“Height is the most important thing in a goalkeeper,” he adds. “If you are short that puts you at a disadvantage because the opponents will not respect you at all. But, if you have the height, that will work for you when it comes to crosses and long balls.”
Being able to organise the defence, deal with crosses and distribute the ball decisively are other attributes Shokhoe looks for in a goalkeeper.
But, “while all these attributes are important in a goalkeeper, determination and love for the game is still the most important thing,” Shokhoe insists.
“A goalkeeper may not have many attributes that make a complete goalkeeper but still go on to be one of the best because of determination.”
Shokhoe says Kick4Life’s Sele Thetsane and Lioli’s Kananelo Makhooane are goalkeepers showing the potential to break into the national team. Thetsane, for example, was named Kick4Life’s player of the season last month and is regarded as one of the most improved players in the league.
“I think now Sele Thetsane and Kananelo Makhooane are coming to that level of Jousse and Liteboho, they have potential to become great goalkeepers, even for the country,” Shokhoe says.
The Matlama and Likuena trainer also uses examples from international football as references in his work and he rates Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon and Germany’s Manuel Neuer as the best in the game.
When it comes to ball distribution, Kaizer Chiefs and South Africa international Itumeleng Khune is the master, Shokhoe says.
“For me, in South Africa, perhaps in all Africa, Itumeleng Khune is still the best. His ball distribution is out of this world. If you look internationally, Italian goalkeeper Buffon is a complete goalkeeper. Together with Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, those are the best goalkeepers for me. They are complete,” he says.
Shokhoe also points to Buffon’s 38 years of age as an indication that goalkeepers, like wine, get better with time. Today, keepers can play until 40; the more a goalkeeper grows, the more he matures, Shokhoe believes, which is why he is preaching patience when it comes to Lesotho’s upcoming generation of stoppers.
“Believe me, the older the goalkeeper gets, the more important he becomes, because when he is old now he plays with his mind and everything he has learned,” he says.
“What is good with goalkeepers is that they can play until they are 40 or something, unlike an on-field player. Look at Buffon, he is 38 or 39 years and he is the best.”
Going forward Shokhoe says his assignment is to scout more talented goalkeepers throughout Lesotho and to produce the best quality for Matlama and Likuena.
“I am grateful for this task and I want to give everyone from different parts of the country a chance.”
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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