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Likuena troop into camp

by Sunday Express
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Moorosi Tsiane

Likuena troop into camp this evening to start preparations for the penultimate qualifier of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament.

Lesotho play Burkina Faso on 15 November at home and Gabon four days later in Libreville to wind-up their Group C campaign, which also includes Angola.

After losing to Burkina Faso 2-0 in the first fixture of the campaign, the national football team, popularly known as  Likuena, went on to draw 1-1 and 0-0 against Gabon and Angola at home respectively, before losing 4-0 versus the Angolans in Luanda.

After the Angola defeat, Likuena now anchor Group C and would need a miracle to be one of the two teams which automatically qualify for the continental showcase from this pool.

Meanwhile, following the Angola thrashing, coach Seephephe Matete made nine changes to the team, dropping regulars such as Tšoanelo Koetle, Thabo Masualle, Nkau Lerotholi, Bushy Moletsane, Motlalepula Mofolo, Lekhanya Lekhanya, and Tšepo Lekhooana.

According to Matete, he had identified the team’s weaknesses, and would ensure Likuena are a better side in their remaining fixtures.

“What we had to do was identify where we were getting it wrong and among the weaknesses we realised was the players’ mental fitness; they were not fit psychologically so we will be working on that going forward.

“Football has six pillars, which are tactical strength, technical strength, physical strength, psychological strength, diet and health. They all complement each other and if we fail in any of them, we may not get the expected results, and that weak link was the players’ psychological strength,” Matete said.

Asked about the overhaul of the team, Matete said: “I want to work with players who are hungry to play for Likuena and also understand what is at stake when they wear that national jersey.

“It is not going to be easy to get this team to gel but we have to start somewhere, and there is always a first time for everything.

“After one week, we will see how they will be responding to training and what we are trying to achieve as a team.”

According to Matete, the two upcoming matches are still very important to Lesotho despite the team’s precarious position on the table. Lesotho are on two points, Angola have four, Burkina Faso seven and Gabon eight. All the teams have played for matches each and remain with two fixtures. The winners and runners-up of the seven qualifying groups and best third-place team qualify for finals, and Matete has not given up on Lesotho making their maiden Afcon appearance this time around.

“To be the best, you always have to play and beat the best so these two matches are really important to us. We have to win them because we are not yet out of the running for a place at the Afcon; we still have an outside chance of making it if we win both ties. Again, if we win, our Fifa ranking will improve, which then puts us in a good position to be exempted from preliminary rounds of some competitions.”

Lesotho squad

Goalkeepers: Liteboho Mokhesi, Kholuoe Phasumane (Bantu), Mohau Kuenane (Lioli).

Defenders: Moitheri Ntobo (LCS), Basia Makepe, Shetsane Ramoseeka, Jeremea Kamele (Lioli), Thapelo Mokhehle (Bantu), Bokang Mothoana, Lekhooa Salebone (Likhopo), Lisema Lebokollane, John Mohau (Matlama).

Midfielders: Teboho ‘Mota, Phafa Tšosane, Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama), Mohau Rammoneng (Liphakoe), Mabuti Potloane (Linare), Teboho Lekhooa (Lioli), Katleho Moleko (Garankuwa United, SA).

Strikers: Thabo Seakhoa

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