Great chance for Li­oli to make his­tory

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

Li­oli have been drawn against Bu­rundi side Vi­tal’ô Foot­ball Club in the two-legged pre­lim­i­nary round of the 2016 Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball (CAF) Cham­pi­ons League.

The draw looks fairly kind on Mosholu ‘ Shoes’ Mokhothu and his charges and presents the TY out­fit with a great chance to fi­nally end Le­sotho’s long wait for suc­cess on the in­ter­na­tional foot­ball stage, even if it was just to go past the pre­lim­i­nary stage.

Of course, play­ing Vi­tal’ô is not go­ing to be a walk in the park for Tse Nala, but like what Mokhothu told our sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, the Sun­day Ex­press, at the week­end, the fact that Bu­rundi are not a foot­ball pow­er­house gives Li­oli hope go­ing into this clash, which takes place in Fe­bru­ary.

Tse Nala have proved to be a com­pet­i­tive side and boast of very ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers who have been part of the var­i­ous na­tional teams over the years. Li­oli also played in this very same com­pe­ti­tion last year but nar­rowly lost 3-2 to an­golan gi­ants Primeiro de agosto in the pre­lim­i­nary round.

Mokhothu’s charges first lost 2-0 away in Luanda and won 2-1 at Set­soto, and the ma­jor­ity of play­ers in that brave fight are still with the team, hence the coach’s op­ti­mism. This was the third time the four-time league cham­pi­ons were tak­ing part in con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions.

We all know how our clubs, just like the na­tional teams, have strug­gled in in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tions and hope­fully, Li­oli are go­ing to end this jinx which has be­come all too fa­mil­iar to Ba­sotho.

How­ever, for this poor run to end, our teams need to have thor­ough prepa­ra­tions which in­clude study­ing their op­po­nents and mak­ing the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments.

The last time our clubs went past the pre­lim­i­nary round of con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions was in the early 1990s when Mat­lama and arse­nal reached the se­cond round and quar­ter­fi­nals of the africa Cup of Club Cham­pi­ons.

We now have a good chance of em­u­lat­ing this rel­a­tive suc­cess, thanks to last Fri­day’s draw which paired Li­oli with Vi­tal’ô and not heavy­weights such as Za­malek and Al Ahly of Egypt.

But like I said, if Li­oli un­der­es­ti­mate the task at hand, then Vi­tal’ô are go­ing to pun­ish them and con­demn us to yet an­other heart­break be­cause de­spite their low con­ti­nen­tal pro­file, they are a power in their own coun­try with 19 league ti­tles un­der their belt since their for­ma­tion in 1960.

Again, the fact that they played Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball for eight years be­tween 1999 and 2011, mak­ing it to the se­cond round twice, makes them a for­mi­da­ble foe that Li­oli can only take lightly at their peril.

Yet Tse Nala have also grown in stature over re­cent years and the fact that they have four league ti­tles to their name, and have be­come the dom­i­nance force of lo­cal foot­ball over the past three to four sea­sons, means they have what it takes to be counted among the best teams on the con­ti­nent.

Go­ing through their team, from the goal­keep­ing depart­ment up to the strik­ers, I see no rea­son why Li­oli should not do the coun­try proud.

Mo­hau Kue­nane has been Likuena’s first-choice goal­keeper for the past five years and has come up against top op­po­nents on so many oc­ca­sions that he should play a lead­ing role in Li­oli’s quest for glory.

Tse Nala fur­ther have Lite­boho Mokhehle as well as Kananelo Makhooane who are qual­ity goal­keep­ers in their own right.may be only area that could be cause for con­cern is the de­fence, which has not been that con­vinc­ing in re­cent matches.

Tse Nala were very solid when the sea­son started, but are now con­ced­ing goals al­most ev­ery match which is some­thing Mokhothu must rec­tify ahead of the team’s con­ti­nen­tal sa­fari.

The mid­field is Li­oli’s strong­est depart­ment, but I think the coach should be con­sis­tent in his se­lec­tion and also de­cide where to field util­ity player, Jerry Kamele. The left-footed player has been at wing­back or cen­tral mid­field for both club and coun­try in re­cent matches and i feel it con­fuses his game as he has not been able to main­tain the stan­dards that made him one of the hottest prop­er­ties in the premier league last sea­son.

Still in mid­field, this is where Mokhothu can call on Bushy Mo­let­sane, who is one of the most ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers in the coun­try. There are also two other ex­pe­ri­enced cam­paign­ers in Mot­lalepula Mo­folo and Lekhanya Lekhanya, hence i said the mid­field is where Li­oli ap­pear the strong­est.

But while Mo­folo and Lekhanya are both fan­tas­tic play­ers, my only worry is they are al­ways on the treat­ment ta­ble, which means their game-time is quite lim­ited.

On the strik­ing front, Tse Nala have been strug­gling for goals and I can’t re­mem­ber the last time Nkoto Ma­soabi scored, yet he is sup­posed to be their chief goal-get­ter. This is yet an­other depart­ment Li­oli need to im­prove be­fore they en­ter the fear­some jun­gle of con­ti­nen­tal foot­ball next year.

Hope­fully by that time, they would have Tšepo Lekhooana back af­ter a long-term in­jury.

Li­oli Foot­ball Club...the pride of TY.

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