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Likuena to play DRC

Teboho Molapo

MASERU — This is a big week for the future of Lesotho football.
In football every week is a big one perhaps.
Last year at around the same time similar importance was put on the Makoanyane XI’s Caf African Youth Championship qualifier against South Africa.
It was an important match at the time, one which would either end or build the side’s dreams.
After that encounter came the game against Kenya which Lesotho won to qualify for the Caf Under-20 showpiece.
In January this year it was then the turn of the Caf Champions League with Matlama facing SuperSport United.
In April it was the Makoanyane XI’s participation in the African Youth Championship in April.
That is the nature of football, sport and life in general.
It’s a continuous cycle that is hopefully building up into some sort of progress.
That is the continuing challenge for Lesotho.
Now here is another seven days that are crucial, with Likuena playing a 2014 Fifa World Cup preliminary qualifier against Burundi on Friday night at Setsoto Stadium.
After two years away from international football there is a great appetite for a return.
Basotho just wish for Likuena to make it into the group stage where the country will have the pleasure and challenge of facing Ghana, Zambia and Sudan.
Not much is known about Burundi but they are possibly one of the toughest sides Lesotho could have drawn.
This is mainly because the East African side are unknown and are a side on the up.
Their recent results illustrate this point, in addition to more than holding their own in a recent 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast away from home.
Today Leslie Notši’s charges face the Democratic Republic of Congo in a match that will show the technical team a lot of what they need to know about their team.
So far the going has been solid.
A win over Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament-bound Botswana away from home and a draw away to Namibia, who were there at the 2008 edition, represents a good return for Likuena.
The secret to success has been taking away from their club teams and having an almost three-month camp at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
It is also again a timely reminder that more needs to be done to improve the standard of the local club game, the facilities, the pitches and the organisation.
That’s where the game against Burundi is important in other ways as well because it can provide the impetus needed for reforms in the local game to take place.
It will also boost the feel good factor, which although going at a tortoise pace, has grown in Lesotho football over recent times thanks to the sponsorship of telecommunication giants, Vodacom Lesotho.
About the team of course there will always be queries from fans. Why aren’t we scoring goals, for example? But at the moment that is a side issue. The target is to overcome Burundi.
Lesotho have been drawn to play Sao Tome and Principe in the first round of qualifying for the 2013 Afcon.
It would be perfect to go into that game on a roll because it is more than possible that Lesotho can overcome both hurdles — Burundi and Sao Tome and Principe.

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