LIKUENA coach Moses Maliehe says Bantu defender Mkhwanazi Mkhwanazi will still be recalled into the national team if the need arises.
Maliehe has assembled a 22-man squad for the do or die AFCON qualifier against Cape Verde on 24 March 2019 which started its preparations in January.
The team, which took lots of people by surprise, still has Lioli center back Kopano Tseka, Luciano Matsoso and Tumelo Khutlang (both from Black Leopards) despite all three not playing regularly in their respective teams. The team is expected to leave the country on 14 March for a week-long High-Performance Centre camp in Pretoria before they depart to Cape Verde.
Maliehe told the Sunday Express this Maliehe explained that the Bantu center back, who has been on top of his performance this season still has a place in the national team.
Mkhwanazi has been a pillar of the Bantu defence and has seen James Madidilane’s outfit being the least conceding team in the Premier League having conceded just five times in 18 league matches.
The Maputsoe born defender was last called into the national team in 2017 but was later dropped due to indiscipline.
Maliehe admitted that the latter’s performance has improved immensely at Bantu but said players also need to own up to their mistakes and know that there will always be consequences for their actions.
“This is going to be a tough match and I want players whom I know will deliver without any troubles,” Maliehe said.
“Every player wants to be part of the national team but surprisingly some of these players don’t want to work for it and when some get a chance, they gamble with it.
“So, players must always know that they should own up to their mistakes and consequences that follow. Mkhwanazi is a footballer and just like any other footballer, I can still call him up into the team if I need him.”
On why he continues to call players who are not playing at club level, Maliehe said experience will be vital going to Cape Verde.
“I know the issue of players who are not playing at club level because we have discussed it many times and I have always maintained that we need players who we will do the job. Of course, we can select a player based on their recent form at club level but the question will still remain whether or not such a player will rise to the occasion when they get a chance?
“Also, this is going to be a tough match because instead of being tactical, it is going to be more mental so, we need players who have a strong mentality and we know the likes of Kopano can give you that.
“To beef up the defence, we have called America based defender Thetsane Lesia and Thato Sefoli who plays for Real Kings in South Africa,” Maliehe said.
Responding to the issue of his team having the worst defence in Group L conceding seven goals, Maliehe said it has nothing to do with his defenders as the only time they conceded multiple goals was in the back to back matches against Uganda when his team was distracted.
“There were too many things that happened before those matches against Uganda and my players couldn’t really focus and that is the reason for which we conceded five goals in those two matches. It is not that our backline has a problem.
“I still believe in the players we have selected and I am confident they will do the job in Cape Verde,” Maliehe said.