Maliehe hails Likuena win
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