Maliehe ral­lies Likuena

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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).

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