Bell tolls for Matete

…as Likuena coach leads troops into must-win tie against Botswana tswana

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

IN­TERIM na­tional team coach, Seep­hephe Matete, has ad­mit­ted he is now feel­ing the heat fol­low­ing his charges’ 2017 Africa Cup of na­tions (AFCON) 1-2 loss to Ethiopia away from home on Sun­day.

Le­sotho went into the Group J qual­i­fier in the wake of a for­get­table COSAFA tour­na­ment, in which they lost two of their three Group B matches, thereby crash­ing out of the re­gional com­pe­ti­tion in the first round.

The Le­sotho Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion ( LEFA) had tasked Matete with at least reach­ing the semis of the re­gional show­case held in Rusten­burg, South Africa, as well as do­ing well in the African na­tions Cham­pi­onship (CHAN) whose first round draw pit­ted Likuena against Botswana.

The first of the two-legged CHAN fix­tures takes place at Setsoto Sta­dium on Sun­day with the re­turn match sched­uled for 4 July in Gaborone, and Matete is fully aware of the im­por­tance of the ties.

“We were un­lucky to lose against Ethiopia at the week­end, be­cause of in­jury to one of our key play­ers, but I know it will be a to­tally dif­fer­ent ball-game al­to­gether when we meet Botswana. For us, there will be no room for any other re­sult than a win when we face Botswana,” Matete told the Le­sotho Times.

“We have to be very of­fen­sive be­cause we must go all out to re­store our lost pride.”

Matete says los­ing a match is al­ways dis­ap­point­ing, adding he knows coach­ing is all about pro­duc­ing re­sults hence the pres­sure he now finds him­self un­der. Since tak­ing over the Likuena coach­ing role early last year, Matete’s team has only won three of the 19 matches they have played and the vet­eran coach now faces his ul­ti­mate test ver­sus the Ze­bras as the re­sult could de­cide his fate should LEFA stick to their prom­ise.

“It’s a well-known fact that the na­tional team, or foot­ball in gen­eral, is about re­sults, but at the same time, pa­tience is needed among all stake­hold­ers for long-term suc­cess,” said Matete.

“We played well in Ethiopia and showed a lot of im­prove­ment from what hap­pened in the COSAFA tour­na­ment. We shocked the hosts by scor­ing first in the first half, but they man­aged to de­stroy our game-plan when they kicked our out­stand­ing player, Mabuti pot­loane, out of the game.

“We did very well in the first half, but the in­jury to Mabuti re­ally af­fected our game,” he said.

Matete said the in­jury to pot­loane “is very se­ri­ous” and the Mat­lama play­maker would miss Sun­day’s tie, while Lokhopo striker Thapelo Tale and Li­oli mid­fielder Bushy Mo­let­sane also had knocks.

Ac­cord­ing to Matete, the team now needed to fo­cus on the do-or-die matches against Botswana.

“There is no doubt that we are des­per­ate to beat Botswana and must be pre­pared for two tough matches. The fact that we will be play­ing at home means we have to win at all costs be­cause if we don’t, the fans will turn against us, putting more pres­sure on the play­ers.”

Left-back Jerry Kamele also told the Le­sotho Times that Likuena were un­lucky to lose in Ethiopia and would have to win against Botswana to re­gain the sup­port­ers’ trust.

“We worked hard and dom­i­nated the game in the first half against Ethiopia but were un­lucky to lose the match in the fi­nal min­utes,” Kamele said.

“How­ever, we have put that dis­ap­point­ment be­hind us and the fo­cus now is on beat­ing Bot- swana andd mak­ing the fans happy once again af­ter a long ng time of dis­ap­point­ment.

“It is not t good at all that we have not been do­ing well of f late as a team, but we have learned a lot over the past few weeks and should use that ex­pe­ri­ence ri­ence to get pos­i­tive re­sults against Botswana.” .”

Likuena squad Goal­keep­ers: pers: Mo­hau Kue­nane (Li­oli), Kananelo Makhooane (Likhopo). De­fend­ers: rs: nkau Lerotholi (Mat­lama),), Thapelo Mokhehle (Bantu),u), Jerry Kamela (Li­oli), Thabiso abiso Mo­hapi (Bantu), Bokang Mothoana (Likhopo), opo), Motiki Mo­hale (LerotholiLerotholi polytech­nic).ic). Mid­field­ers: ers: Tšoanelo Koe­tle, Mot­lalepula ula Mo­folo, Te­bo­hoho Lekhooa, Bushy Moo­let­sane (all ll Li­oli), Hlomm­pho Kalake ke (Bantu), Jane Tha­ban­tšo (Mat­lama). ). Strik­ers: Litšepe Marabe (Bantu), Thabiso Brown (Kic­k­ick­4Life), nkoto koto Ma­soabi (Li­oli), Tumelo Khut­lang (Sun­dawana).

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