Maliehe hails Likuena win

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Na­tional team in­terim coach Moses Maliehe says tues­day’s 2-1 win against the Sey­chelles brought the much-needed con­fi­dence into his squad.

Likuena reg­is­tered their first win of the 2017 Africa Cup of Na­tions (Af­con) Group J qual­i­fiers over the is­lan­ders at Set­soto sta­dium in Maliehe’s sec­ond com­pet­i­tive match in charge.

His maiden fix­ture was a 2-0 de­feat against the same is­land na­tion away in Vic­to­ria last Satur­day.

On Tues­day, a first-half goal by Amer­i­cabased Jane ‘Sunny’ tšotleho brought likuena back into the game af­ter Sey­chelles had grabbed an early lead.

Im­pres­sive Tumelo Khut­lang scored the win­ner against the run of play through sheer bril­liance to take Likuena’s points to three in three matches.

How­ever, Le­sotho are still bot­tom of Group J af­ter three losses and one win, with lead­ers Al­ge­ria on 10 points, sec­ond­placed Ethiopia on five points and third­placed Sey­chelles on four points.

Af­ter Likuena lost 2-0 to Sey­chelles away in Vic­to­ria on Satur­day in Maliehe’s maiden match at the helm of the team, it was im­porta im­por­tant that the re­verse fix­ture would not end in yet an­other de­feat.

The p play­ers duly re­sponded with a spir­ited per­for­mance in which Tšotleho, Khut­lang and Mon­toeli Sonopo were par­tic­u­larly out­stand­ing while the cen­tre-back partnership of new cap­tain, Basia Makepe and Kopano Tseka, was very solid.

Speak­ing with the Le­sotho Times af­ter the match, Maliehe said the win had come at the right time for the play­ers whose win­less run in the com­pe­ti­tion had put them un­der im­mense pres­sure.

“The pres­sure was all over the team es­pe­cially af­ter Satur­day’s loss. I feel the play­ers re­acted very well to get the win today, and this re­sult gives the much-needed con­fi­dence go­ing for­ward,” Maliehe said.

“they showed char­ac­ter and did not panic de­spite con­ced­ing a goal early in the match.

“It might not have been the best of per­for­mances, but what mat­ters is we won the match.”

Maliehe said qual­i­fy­ing for the con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion was now out of reach, but still em­pha­sised the need to ex­pose the team to more in­ter­na­tional matches.

“There is no doubt these play­ers still have a lot to learn, but they can only get it right with more in­ter­na­tional football,” said Maliehe.

“I’m go­ing to keep this team and hope­fully, they will get bet­ter from play­ing at the up­com­ing Cosafa tour­na­ment.

“You can see the hunger and wil­i­ness to learn and I be­lieve these boys will get it right with more game-time at this level. I think we could have won by a big­ger mar­gin but any­way, a win is a win.”

Tšotleho, who plays for Rich­mond Kick­ers in amer­ica’s third-tier league, said he was over the moon to have fi­nally opened his Likuena ac­count af­ter mak­ing his na­tional team de­but in 2014.

“It is re­ally a great feel­ing to have fi­nally scored my first goal for my coun­try,” tšotleho said.

“i am glad i made a con­tri­bu­tion to the team. Play­ing for the na­tional team is al­ways an hon­our and scor­ing a goal a bonus.”

Likuena next face Ethiopia at home in June be­fore com­plet­ing their Af­con sched­ule against Al­ge­ria in Septem­ber.

The team lost the re­verse matches 2-1 and 3-1 and would now only be play­ing for pride as they are al­ready out of con­tention for qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the Gabon show­case.

The team will also com­pete in the Cosafa tour­na­ment to be staged in Namibia in July.

Likuena mid­fielder Tumelo Khut­lang (left) closely watched by Sey­chelles play­ers dur­ing Tues­day’s Af­con qual­i­fier played at Set­soto Sta­dium.

Likuena in­terim coach Moses Maliehe

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