Maliehe rallies Likuena
NATIONAL team interim coach Moses Maliehe has called on his troops to show character when they take on Ethiopia in Sunday’s 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group J qualifier at Setsoto stadium.
Likuena were beaten 2-0 at Setsoto in both friendly matches they played against Swaziland last Friday and on Sunday.
But Maliehe wants the team to bounce back from those chastening defeats and beat Ethiopia although the match is just academic since Lesotho are out of contention for next year’s Afcon tournament set for Gabon.
Likuena lost the first leg match 2-1 in June last year but would want to atone for that defeat on Sunday and beat Ethiopia who are second in their group.
Lesotho, on three points from four matches, are bottom of Group J behind leaders Algeria (10 points), Ethiopia (5) and Seychelles (4), and with two matches to go, they are out of the running for a place at the continental showpiece.
“Obviously, the players will be affected mentally after losing twice against Swaziland especially since the defeats were in front of our supporters,” Maliehe said.
“Still, we have to pick up the pieces and focus on Ethiopia as that’s the most important match for us.”
Maliehe, who was appointed interim coach last year, also pleaded for patience from the fans who were clearly not happy after the two losses against fellow minnows Swaziland.
“This is a new challenge for me and the players as we have not been involved for long at this level of football.
“We need a bit of time to be where we want to be,” he said.
“In football, it happens that when you start from scratch the way we are doing right now, you lose games.
“We might have lost three games — one against Botswana and two to Swaziland — but there were some positives we gained in those games.
“For instance, we now play with more confidence and keep possession of the ball longer.”
However, Maliehe said the biggest problem for his team was scoring goals and losing concentration at critical stages of the game.
“We are conceding goals towards the end of the match, which is our biggest concern. That’s is what happened in our last three friendly games against Botswana and Swaziland,” Maliehe said.
“This is something that needs to be fixed quickly if we are to win. The other worry is we are struggling to score goals, but this is something I think can be fixed as our strikers gain more experience.
“A striker like Motebang Sera is new to this level of competition and we need to be patient with him.”
Meanwhile, Likuena were boosted by Tuesday morning’s arrival of America-based Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho.
But the powerful forward will not be part of the team to play at the regional Cosafa tournament set for Namibia next month.
Maliehe said Tšotleho’s third-tier outfit, Richmond Kickers, are not in a position to release the player for the regional competition as they in the middle of their league campaign.
The Likuena coach also said he would not panic and make changes to the squad despite calls to add some experienced players for the Cosafa competition.
“I have been tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding this team and I think these are the right players for that job,” said Maliehe.
“I’m not making changes and will be taking the same players to the regional Cosafa tournament because that is the right platform for them to get international exposure and develop,” he said.
Likuena squad Goalkeepers: Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli), Daniel Jouse (LCS).
Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo, Basia Makepe (all Lioli), Sepiriti Malefane (Bantu), Motlomelo Mkhwanazi (Sundawana).
Midfielders: Montoeli Sonopo, Jerry Kamela (both Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Kefuoe Mahula, Jane Thabantšo, Mabuti Potloane, Phafa Tšosane (all Matlama), Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho (Richmond Kickers).
Strikers: Thabo Seakhoa (LCS), Motebang Sera ( Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Tšepo Seturumane (LMPS).