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Mkhwanazi, the missing piece in Likuena defence

 

LIKUENA are in the last phase of preparations for their do-or-die 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier clash away to Cape Verde on the 24th of March 2019 in Praia.

If Likuena win against the Blue Sharks, they will become the Lesotho’s first national soccer side to qualify for the continent’s premier tournament which is scheduled for Egypt in June this year.

Coach Moses Maliehe would have made history and there is no doubt that he needs all his players in their best form against the Blue Sharks.

In January this year, Maliehe announced his 22-man squad for the tie and I must say that they were no real surprises except the one of Thato Sefoli, the right back for South Africa’s National First Division side, Real Kings.

In calling Sefoli, Maliehe probably had the adage, “strong attack will win you games while strong defence will win you the titles” in mind.

For a long time, Likuena have struggled to score and often manage just one goal. However, that is not the side’s only problem as it has struggled to keep clean sheets.

The team seats second in Group L with five points after already qualified Cranes of Uganda who have with 13 points while Tanzania and Cape Verde occupy the third and fourth spot with five and four points respectively.

What worries me is that as much as Likuena are second, they are they conceded the most goals, seven but have scored just thrice leaving their goal difference at negative four.

This is a cause for concern for Maliehe and his technical team and I want to believe that they are working hard to ensure that at least, if they don’t score, then they also don’t concede.

But what I don’t understand is how Bantu defender Mkhwanazi Mkhwanazi, who without any doubt, has been one of the most outstanding defenders in our league this season has been left out of this team.

The gifted centre back has been a pillar in Bantu’s defence forcing his way into the team and in the process pushing Bantu’s long serving player and captain, Thapelo Mokhehle, to the bench.

In past matches, Maliehe has preferred a central defence partnership of LMPS duo of Nkau Lerotholi and Basia Makepe but unfortunately, they haven’t really been at the top of their form. One would have thought that Mkhwanazi would be called up in January but that did not happen.

The Maputsoe born defender’s tactical positioning is astounding. In my opinion, he comes only second to veteran Kick4Life defender Thabo Masualle when it comes to tactical positioning, an area where Lerotholi lacks. Apart from that, Mkhwanazi is also good aerially and also comfortable on his feet in case Maliehe decides to start the attack from the back.

The numbers don’t lie and if one looks at Bantu, they have conceded the least number of goals, (five) in all 17 matches while in second Matlama and LCS have both conceded 11 apiece.

I know that coaches always have their own way of looking at players but I still believe Mkhwanazi deserved a national team call up. He would not be new in that set-up as he has been called up before while he was stilling plying his trade at Sandawana and Linare.

The last time the player was called up for national duty, he was only dropped due to his indiscipline as he would go AWOL. However, followers of the local game can attest that he has exuded maturity lately under no-nonsense Bantu coach James Madidilane and I believe he deserve a second chance.

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