…but Makoanyane XI skipper warns teammates against underrating Swaziland
National under-20 football team captain Teboho Lekhooa has warned his teammates against underrating Swaziland in today’s return leg of the 2015 African Youth Championship preliminary round qualifier scheduled for Setsoto Stadium.
Makoanyane XI, as the team is proudly known, beat the Swazis 3-0 in the reverse fixture played three weeks ago in Mbabane, but Lekhooa says the battle is far from over. Lekhooa, who scored a penalty in the Mbabane romp, on Friday told the Sunday Express that Swaziland needed to be taken very seriously as they could upset the applecart this afternoon.
“The boys are feeling very confident and you can feel that everyone is happy about Sunday’s game.
“We are happy to have such a healthy lead going into the second leg of the tie, but there is also the danger of being overconfident and allowing the excitement to affect your focus.
“This is what we should guard against as a team if we are to go all the way to the final,” Lekhooa said.
The Lioli playmaker continued: “Yes, we are in a good position to qualify for the next stage because we won the first leg by such a big margin.
‘But like I said, we have to remain focused as a team because if we could score three goals away, Swaziland can also do the same at Setsoto.”
However, Lekhooa bemoaned lack of international friendly matches before crucial tournaments .
“Not playing international friendlies before big tournaments remains our biggest challenge because we only have such exposure in the matches themselves, which is not a good thing.
“We need to play different nations when preparing for such international tournaments, so that we get the necessary exposure that will help us remain calm on such big days as Sunday.”
Lekhooa however, said there is no doubting the talent in the team.
“We have a very good team; it is still almost the same side that played in last December’s Cosafa tournament Lesotho hosted,” he added.
“However, the coaches have been working hard on our finishing because lack of goals was one of the reasons we disappointed Basotho by failing to go past the first stage of the Cosafa competition.”
Makoanyane XI coach, Moses Maliehe, on his part, said the players would need to work extra hard to keep Swaziland at bay this afternoon.
“It will be a tough match; surely they are going to throw everything at us, so the boys will have to be at their best to get the win we need to advance to the next stage of the championship,” Maliehe said.
“Our approach to the match will still be the same; we will attack them so that they become uncomfortable.”
Should Lesotho win against Swaziland, which they are widely expected to do, they face Angola in the next stage of the competition whose final is in Senegal next year.
Goalkeepers: Thabiso Lichaba, Sekhooane Moerane, Lehlohonolo Monyatsi
Defenders: Leponesa Tekane, John Mohai, Nketsi Rankhasa, Hlalele Makhakhe, Matala Selepe, Moshe Mokhatholane, John Molapo, Jabari Tlhokomelo
Midfielders: Mohau Rammoneng, Majakathata Moshoeshoe, Tšoarelo Mokoaleli, Teboho Lekhooa, Jane Thaba-ntso, Thabo Mongali, Thabo Matšoele, Tokelo Majoro, Thuso Mankoane
Strikers: Lesoetsa Thabo, Tumelo Khutlang, Rapaulinah Maime, Thabiso Brown.