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Likuena ready for Liberia

The boys are ready to do the nation proud, says assistant coach

Moorosi Tsiane

LIKUENA are bubbling with confidence ahead of today’s 2015 Africa Cup on Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Liberia’s Lone Stars in Monrovia.
The national football team, popularly known as Likuena, arrived in Liberia on Wednesday and assistant coach, Halemakale Mahlaha, said morale was high in camp and that the players were looking forward to the tie.
Lesotho, who have never qualified for the biennial football showpiece, were paired with the Lone Stars in the second round of the qualifiers and play the first leg this afternoon, with the reverse fixture set for Setsoto in two weeks’ time.

Conquerors of this encounter face champions of the Comoros/Kenya tie in the third round, with the winner joining Burkina Faso, Angola, and Gabon in Group C of the final phase of the qualifiers.
According to Mahlaha, the team is confident of upsetting the Lone Stars, who qualified for the Afcon tournament in 1996 and 2002, in their own backyard.
“After leaving home on Tuesday, we arrived here on Wednesday and the reception has been decent except that the food here is not that good,” Mahlaha on Friday told the Sunday Express. “We have been training at different times in order to acclimatise with the hot weather conditions here.”
“Morale is quite high in camp; the boys are all determined to give their best and make it to the next round of the qualifiers.”

Mahlaha said it has been the norm for Likuena to crash out of the Afcon qualifiers in the early rounds, which he, however, vowed would not happen this time around.
“It has become the norm for Likuena never to qualify for this continental showpiece but this team is very determined to change this. The boys would like to give the nation something to celebrate by qualifying for this tournament,” he said.
Mahlaha further noted the quality of the current Likuena.
“We have a very good squad, and I believe they can challenge for honours. The only problem is the players’ mental fitness and discipline, but we have been working on these as the coaching department.”

Likuena will be without Bantu defenders Thabo Masualle and Tlali Maile in today’s tie for disciplinary reasons, but Mahlaha said the pair “will not be missed”.
“Ill-discipline has been the major problem to some of our key players and we can no longer tolerate this because that’s what causes the players to underperform,” he said. “So, I cannot say the absence of Maile and Masualle will affect this team.”

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