LIKUENA coach Moses Maliehe has praised his charges for beating Madagascar on Friday night to clinch the third place at the COSAFA Cup in Polokwane, South Africa.
Lesotho walked away M150 000 richer and the bronze medals.
Maliehe said there was still room for improvement for his team and indicated that there were several positives to take forward from the competition having lost once on penalties in three matches.
Lesotho had to settle for the third and fourth place play-off against Madagascar after losing 3-1 on penalties to Zimbabwe in the semi-finals.
Maliehe also said the fact that his players won man of the match awards in the three games that they played was an indication that his team had improved.
“Our goal when we came here was to get to the final and even though we lost in the semi-finals, I still think we did well,” Maliehe said.
“We came back with a clean sheet and a lot of positives in the way that we played.
“I am also happy with our defenders who were solid in all the games that we played.”
In the first game against eSwatini, Luciano Matsotso walked away with the man of the match award and was followed by Tumelo Khutlang and captain Mafa Moremoholo in games against Zimbabwe and Madagascar respectively. Maliehe says the awards are an indication of his team’s growth.
“It is good that the panel from the competition recognised the individual performances of our players. It shows that we have improved as a team to win the awards in all the three games that we played.
“It is a motivation for the players to work harder because the long-term goal is the upcoming 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“We will play Cape Verde in September and the target was to do well in the COSAFA Cup and take the momentum into the qualifiers.
“However, I am proud of the boys and happy with how we performed in the three games,” he said.
Maliehe said the fact that some of his players attracted the attention of foreign scouts is also positive for the country and said he is hopeful that the negotiations will go accordingly for the players.
He said as the Likuena technical team and management will direct all the interested clubs to the teams of the players back home.
“It is a sign that we are growing as a country and our players are also doing well. I have told those that have attracted the interest of scouts not to rest when they get home but instead continue to work on their own so that when they start training with the new clubs they are in good shape.
“It is good for me as the coach as well as the players because we always want to grow and see our players getting opportunities to play in better leagues.
“We will give the interested clubs the contacts of the relevant clubs back home so that they talk to the right people.”
This paper understands that Khutlang, who has been the standout player for Likuena in the tournament, is the hottest property within the Lesotho side attracting a host of South African clubs.
Bidvest Wits, through their scout and former South African international Dillon Shepperd, are said to be in the run against Jomo Cosmos for the signature of the Lioli player.
Defender, Basia Makepe and strikers Nkoto Masoabi and Motebang Sera, who were the two top goal scorers in the Econet Premier League last season has also attracted attention of South African clubs. Masoabi was the top goal scorer in the just ended season with 16 goals while Sera netted 12 and was the second placed.
Sera came from the bench to score the winner for Likuena against Swaziland while Masoabi netted the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Madagascar.