Mas­sive task for Matete and his charges

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

IN­TERIM coach, Seep­hephe Matete’s coach­ing cre­den­tials will be put to the test this Sun­day when Likuena host Al­ge­ria in the sec­ond qual­i­fier of the 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions (AF­CON) tour­na­ment.

Af­ter all, Al­ge­ria is the num­ber one-ranked na­tional team on our con­ti­nent and boasts a squad with play­ers ply­ing their trade across the Euro­pean leagues. Added to that, a num­ber of their play­ers have been in pro­lific form in the few league matches played so far this sea­son.

I know very well that the Al­ge­rian coach has been pre­par­ing for this match for some time. He flew to Rusten­burg in South Africa dur­ing the re­gional COSAFA Cup in May to watch our beloved Likuena in ac­tion. Al­ge­ria and other top teams from North Africa al­ways take their qual­i­fiers se­ri­ously de­spite hav­ing squads play­ing in the world’s top leagues.

It would thus be no over­state­ment to sur­mise that the Desert War­riors, as the Al­ge­rian na­tional football team is af­fec­tion­ately known, are de­ter­mined to emerge vic­to­ri­ous.

This as­sess­ment is not meant to look down on our play­ers, but to serve as a re­minder of what we are up against. The Al­ge­ri­ans have been among the best teams the con­ti­nent has to of­fer for the last three years, and Likuena will have to be at their best to com­pete with them.

I must say, though, that I am a bit con­cerned by the lev­els of con­fi­dence, or lack thereof, among our play­ers head­ing into the en­counter.

The fact that Likuena lost their open­ing matches against Ethiopia means another loss would make it very dif­fi­cult for our boys to har­bour any am­bi­tions of once again play­ing in the con­ti­nent’s big­gest football show­piece.

Maybe tak­ing their camp out­side Bam­batha would have boosted the Likuena play­ers’ morale ahead of this cru­cial fix­ture.

In my view, the Le­sotho Football As­so­ci­a­tion don’t fancy Likuena’s prospects as far as these qual­i­fiers are con­cerned.

No one seems to re­ally care about the well­be­ing of the play­ers or goes the ex­tra mile to en­sure they are in high spir­its ahead of such an im­por­tant match.

My con­cern also stems from the per­cep­tion that play­ers are not happy about a lot of things in­clud­ing the food they are be­ing of­fered at their camp­ing base.

I can only hope that, on the day, the play­ers will put what­ever chal­lenges and reser­va­tions they might have be­hind them and fight for their coun­try.the next two months will be very im­por­tant for the team as there are also the World Cup and African Na­tions Cham­pi­onship (CHAN) qual­i­fiers to con­tend with.

Play­ing at home will be to our boys’ ad­van­tage this Sun­day, and here’s hop­ing that they will rise to the oc­ca­sion like they have done in the past against the so-called top guns of the con­ti­nent.

Godspeed Likuena!

Likuena will host al­ge­ria in their sec­ond match of the 2017 africa Cup of na­tions.file pic.

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