Makoanyane XI face SA test

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Makoanyane XI host South africa at Set- soto Sta­dium on Sun­day in the first leg of the fi­nal qual­i­fier of the 2017 Africa Un­der-20 Cup of na­tions.

Le­sotho beat mozam­bique 2-1 in the last round of the cam­paign while South Africa’s Ama­jita over­came namibia 2-0.

makoanyane Xi man­ager, thabo Pule, told the Le­sotho Times the team was aware of the huge task that awaits Le­sotho come Sun­day and the re­turn leg a fort­night later as they bat­tle to be among the seven na­tions which qual­ify for the youth tour­na­ment set for Zam­bia from 26 Fe­bru­ary — 12 march 2017.

Zam­bia au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the tour­na­ment as hosts, while the first four teams would pro­ceed to the 2017 Fifa Un­der-20 World Cup to be held in South Korea.

But ac­cord­ing to Pule, the Le­sotho camp was con­fi­dent of up­stag­ing South Africa be­cause of their play­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ence of elite foot­ball.

“this is a very im­por­tant match for us and we know it will not be easy against South Africa,” Pule said,

“there is so much ri­valry be­tween the two coun­tries when it comes to foot­ball and the fact that we knocked them out in the qual­i­fiers of the same com­pe­ti­tion in 2011 makes it even more dif­fi­cult.

“they will surely come here with one thing in their mind, which is re­venge.”

Pule fur­ther said their only worry was star-striker Roboama Koloti, who was in­jured in a prac­tice match last week­end.

the Sun­dawana striker scored 13 goals last sea­son and Pule said it would be a big blow should he fail to re­cover for Sun­day’s fix­ture which Le­sotho should win to take a com­fort­able cush­ion into the re­verse fix­ture set for 22–24 July.

“He sat out train­ing on mon­day and tues­day but we are con­fi­dent that he will be okay come match-day,” said Pule.

“it will re­ally be a big blow if he fails to re­cover be­cause he is our top man who scored the win­ner in our last match against mozam­bique.

“How­ever, we also have Bo­nang mo­hapi who is an equally good striker but was not avail­able for the last match due to sus­pen­sion.”

Pule said the team never took a break since elim­i­nat­ing mozam­bique on 12 June and is adamant they would rise to the oc­ca­sion against the South Africans.

“it is never easy when we play our neigh­bours, but we have been hard at work over the past month pre­par­ing for this game,” Pule said.

“We be­lieve the play­ers are in good shape and will rise to the oc­ca­sion and beat their South African coun­ter­parts.”

mean­while, the South African con­tin­gent is ex­pected in the coun­try to­day. Ac­cord­ing to South Africa’s Kick­off mag­a­zine, coach thabo Senong is con­fi­dent his charges would beat Le­sotho.

Senong told the mag­a­zine: “We are ex­cited about be­ing back in camp and we are look­ing for­ward to the tie against Le­sotho on the week­end. the sole fo­cus this week is con­vert­ing our chances be­cause we missed many of them in our pre­vi­ous games. in fu­ture matches, this could lead to our down­fall if we don’t rec­tify it now.

“At this level if you don’t bury your chances you will be pun­ished. And also it is im­por­tant that play­ers get used to scor­ing at this age so that when they progress to higher na­tional teams it be­comes rou­tine.

“An­other chal­lenge is that at this time of the year it is win­ter in the south­ern hemi­sphere, but colder in Le­sotho where it some­times reaches freez­ing point, so we have to pre­pare our boys for the con­di­tions we might come across in maseru — so they have to be ready men­tally.”

makoanyane XI de­fender Le­sia Thet­sane in ac­tion against Mozam­bique in the last round of the qual­i­fiers at Set­soto Sta­dium.

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