Time Likuena end Bafana dominance
Likuena face South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in two friendly matches scheduled for today and Saturday at Setsoto Stadium.
While these are just supposed to be warm-up games, there is a lot of rivalry between the two neighbouring countries and I feel a lot will be at stake during the encounters.
As a country, we have been looking forward to that day when our football team can finally get the better of Bafana Bafana because they have dominated us for far too long.
With Shakes Mashaba selecting a relatively inexperienced squad when it comes to international football, I hope our beloved national football team, Likuena, could make use of this loophole and exact the long-awaited revenge.
The majority of players in our team were part of Leslie Notši’s side which reached the semifinals of the last edition of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament held in Zambia two years ago, so they should be miles ahead in terms of experience.
South Africa won their last two matches against Likuena — 2-0 in an international friendly at Setsoto and 2-1 at the 2013 Cosafa tournament for third-place playoff in Zambia.
I have watched several matches between these two countries and unfortunately, Bafana Bafana have had the upper hand in most , if not all of them.
Surely Likuena coach, Seephephe Matete, would want to settle an old score after Bafana hammered his charges 5-0 the last time he was interim coach in 2007. That Germiston Stadium thrashing was a bitter pill to swallow and Matete would surely have it at the back of his mind when the Bafana and Likuena square-up once again this afternoon and on Saturday.
I would say the only missing link in our team is Vodacom Premier League top goalscorer Litšepe Marabe, but apart from him, I think we have a team that is good enough to teach Bafana Bafana a lesson for once and end the dominance.
Taking a look at our squad, there is a good balance of youth and experience that should be able to handle South Africa and also do well at the Cosafa competition set for 17-31 May in South Africa.
In goals, Bantu’s Kholuoe Phasumane, will no doubt be the first choice in the absence of the injured Mohau kuenane of Lioli, with Likhopo’s Kananelo Makhooane his deputy.
This is because Phasumane has been there for a long period and of course has always done well between the sticks for the national team.
In defence, it’s time for Nkau Lerotholi and Thabo Masualle to take their game to another level and also lead by example in the absence of the recently retired captain, Moitheri Ntobo.
Both Masualle and Lerotholi have played at this level for a very long time and a lot will be expected from them in the two matches and going forward.
In the wingback positions, I believe Matete will also go for the experience of Bantu’s Thapelo Mokhehle and Lioli’s Tšoanelo Koetle.
The Likuena mentor has made it clear that he will be utilising Likhopo’s Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana in midfield where he also has the experience of Lioli’s Bushy Moletsane, as well as emerging anchor, Mohau Rammoneng of Liphakoe.
Moletsane is now the most experienced player in this team along with Mothoana and should both take a leading role in steering the team to new heights.
My only worry about both Mothoana and Moletsane is they struggled with injuries during the 2014/15 season and only time will tell if their legs are still strong enough to carry them over such a demanding schedule that Likuena face over the next few months.
All in all, I think the current crop of players owe this country a win over South Africa because we all know our neighbours have always undermined our abilities as a football country.
Of course, a good performance for our players against Bafana Bafana is always a bonus as I believe scouts from the South African league will be following the two matches with keen interest to spot talent.
I therefore feel our boys should go for the kill as there is a lot to play for against our wealthy neighbours.
With that said, I wish to conclude this column by passing my sincere condolences to the family of the late former Likuena and Bantu midfield maestro, Popo Matšoara, who passed away on Friday last week after a short illness.
Popo was a marvel to watch in his playing days and even earned the nickname 16v just like South Africa’s Doctor Khumalo.
While he always supported his home team, Bantu, since hanging-up his boots, it was very sad that a player who gave so much entertainment to this country was never given a chance or any football role to play thereafter. Rest in Peace our ‘16v’.