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Makoanyane XI carry the hopes of a disappointed nation

 

Moorosi Tsiane

Likuena meet Ethiopia today in an Africa Cup of Nations Group J dead-rubber scheduled for Setsoto Stadium.

Back-to-back defeats against Swaziland last weekend was not the ideal preamble to this match so the least said about Likuena, the better.

Instead, let us focus on Makoanyane XI who started their 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations on a positive note after holding Mozambique to a one-all draw in Maputo a fortnight ago.

Thanks to Sky Battalion striker Bonang Mohapi who scored Lesotho’s lone goal away from home, the national under-20 side will be playing their return leg on 12 June at Setsoto under less pressure.

Lesotho qualified for the continental championship in 2005 and 2011 although we failed to progress beyond the first round in both tournaments.

But if history is anything to go by, I would say the team is going to be among the seven nations that will qualify and join hosts Zambia in the championship scheduled for 26 February – 12 March 2017.

And should that happen, it would be good news for football lovers who have not had much to smile about in a long time following so many years of failure by the national team, Likuena.

The under-20s have always shown potential to qualify for this tournament and went as far as the third round in 2015, beating Angola and Swaziland along the way before they had to pull out of the championship ahead of their clash against Nigeria.

The pullout was due to the ebola virus that was ravaging West Africa at the time and it would have been insensitive for our football authorities to send the youngsters to Nigeria at that particular time.

But the same success has not been replicated at senior level and Likuena continue to toil and seek their maiden appearance at the Nations Cup tournament.

With our hope for success now pinned on the under-20s, the big question fans should be asking is can they do it? Can these youngsters go all the away to Zambia and not only make up the numbers but win the tournament itself?

Surely that’s what every Mosotho wants and we all know to achieve this will not be easy.

Yet it can still be done with every stakeholder giving the team the support it deserves. We have the talent to see us through to Zambia but like I said, it is now up to the relevant authorities to back the boys all the way and give Basotho the happiness they so much deserve.

 

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