Ntobo sounds battle cry
Likuena captain says Saturday’s match against Burkina Faso remains crucial for Lesotho
Inspirational captain, Moitheri ntobo (pictured) , says lesotho go into saturday’s penultimate africa Cup of nations (afcon) qualifier against Burkina Faso determined for a win that would revive the team’s hopes of making it to the 16-nation football tournament next year.
The match, which takes place at Setsoto Stadium, is almost a dead-rubber for Likuena who are bottom of four-nation Group C behind leaders Gabon, second-placed Burkina Faso and third-placed Angola.
With the group winners and runners-up automatically qualifying for the biennial showcase set for 17 January to 8 February 2015 at a venue yet to be announced, lesotho — who are on two points following two draws and two losses — would need a miracle to advance from the pool at the expense of Gabon, Burkina Faso and Angola who are on eight, seven and four points after four matches, respectively.
Yet ntobo insists despite their precarious position, Likuena would give it their best shot on saturday as national pride would be at stake.
“our chances of qualifying are now very slim, but as a footballer, you always want to win every match especially when you are playing for your country, and before you own fans,” ntobo said.
“We are in a very dangerous position and playing against a very good team that is also desperate to qualify for the afcon tournament, which makes us even more motivated to come out of setsoto with maximum points.
“again, our dream of playing in next year’s afcon competition is not yet over, as a win against Burkina Faso and Gabon will change everything, and see us qualifying if not as winners or runners-up, then as best third-placed team.”
the lesotho Correctional service defender has also welcomed changes made by coach seephephe Matete following the team’s 4-0 drubbing by Angola in their last Afcon qualifier in Luanda on 15 October, while also lamenting the absence of defensive partner Nkau Lerotholi. Lerotholi will miss the final two matches due to suspension and ntobo says the central defender would be solely missed.
“His absence will be felt because we are used to playing together, but we have a big squad and I believe it is a chance for another player to take his role,” said Ntobo.
“Playing against a good Burkinabe side is a massive task for us and we have to make sure we play well, and this is where Nkau was supposed to come in handy. But like I said, his absence gives a chance for another player to step in, and show what he can do.”
The Likuena skipper also said the coach’s decision to recall stars such as midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle and striker Tšepo Seturumane was welcome considering the calibre of their opponents.
Koetle was dropped from the team which faced angola in luanda because of disciplinary issues, while seturumane did not make the tour following a bonus row with the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) on the day of departure.
“they are very experienced campaigners and we are happy to have them back in the team,” ntobo said.
Meanwhile, Likuena also welcome striker thapelo tale, who missed the two games against Angola due to injury, while firstchoice goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, is also back in the team after serving a two-match suspension.
Meanwhile, the Stallions, as the Burkina Faso team is affectionately known, arrive in the country today with saturday’s match kicking off at 3pm.
Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane, Kholuoe Phasumane. Defenders: Thapelo Mokhehle, Moitheri Ntobo (captain), Basia Makepe, Shetsane Ramoseeka, Jeremiah Kamele, Lisema Lebokollane, John Mohai, Lekhooa Salebone. Midfielders: Tšoanelo Koetle, Mabuti Potloane, Katleho Moleko, Teboho Mota, Phafa Tšosane, Mohau Rammoneng, Bokang Mothoana. Strikers: Thapelo Tale, Thabiso Brown, Thabo Seakha, Nkoto Masoabi, Tšepo Seturumane.