New kid on the Likuena block

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

IN­TERIM na­tional foot­ball team coach, Moses Maliehe, has in­cluded South Africa-based winger, Luciano Mat­soso (pic­tured), in Likuena’s first camp since the Mat­lama men­tor’s ap­point­ment in Oc­to­ber 2015.

The week­long camp, which be­gan on Mon­day, is meant to as­sess Likuena’s pre­pared­ness ahead of the 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions Group J qual­i­fier against the Seychelles in March.

Mat­soso was born in the Maseru sub­urb of Moshoeshoe II and re­lo­cated to Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa at the age of five. The 21-year old told the Le­sotho Times in an in­ter­view this week that his pas­sion for foot­ball be­gan at the ten­der age of 10.

“I de­vel­oped the love for soc­cer at a very young age,” Mat­soso said.

“I then joined the School of Ex­cel­lence in Jo­han­nes­burg, which iden­ti­fies and en­rolls tal­ented young foot­ball play­ers, be­fore be­ing iden­ti­fied by Bloem­fontein Celtic scouts and sign­ing up for the club’s ju­nior team.”

The winger said he ben­e­fit­ted im­mensely from the men­tor­ship he re­ceived from var­i­ous coaches over the years.

“I worked un­der a lot of top coaches at the School of Ex­cel­lence and Bloem­fontein Celtic where I was also pro­moted to the first team by Khabo Zondo,” Mat­soso said.

“I, how­ever, did not man­age to play in an of­fi­cial first team match af­ter sus­tain­ing a se­ri­ous in­jury that kept me out of the game for a long time. I ended up go­ing un­der the knife be­cause of the in­jury.

“Fol­low­ing my re­cov­ery, I ended up play­ing for Roses United in the South Africa Na­tional First Divi­sion where I was coached by Clin­ton Larsen and Si­mon Gopane.”

The pacy for­ward said he re­cently went for tri­als at a club in Thai­land, al­though the in­tended move fell through.

The fo­cus, Mat­soso said, would now be on se­cur­ing a club in the South African leagues.

“I am now work­ing to­wards fi­nal­iz­ing a move to a team in SA’S first divi­sion, al­though there is also some in­ter­est from teams in the premier league,” he said.

Hav­ing al­ready im­pressed Maliehe af­ter only a few days in camp, Mat­soso said the call-up to the na­tional team came as a pleas­ant sur­prise since he had a “soft spot” for Le­sotho.

“To be hon­est, I was elated and also shocked when I was told by my agent, Abel Shongwe, that I had been called up for the Le­sotho na­tional team,” he said.

“I had a chance to rep­re­sent South Africa at the youth level, but al­ways had a soft spot for Le­sotho since it is my home coun­try. I feel priv­iledged to be af­forded this op­por­tu­nity.

“I will make the most of it, and hope­fully, I will be in the team that will play in the up­com­ing matches.”

On his part, Maliehe told this pa­per that Mat­soso had set­tled quickly into the team.

“Be­cause he is a good player, it did not take him a long time to set­tle in. Luciano is a very in­tel­li­gent winger who can be a night­mare for any de­fender,” the Likuena men­tor said.

“I also have the United States-based Jane ‘ Sunny’ Tšotleho in camp since he is back home sort­ing out his im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ments. Hope­fully, the two of them will be avail­able for the games against Seychelles since they are young and have been ex­posed to bet­ter leagues which will im­prove the per­for­mance of the team.”

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