MASERU — LCS coach, Mosholu Mokhothu, is counting down hours to the biggest game of his coaching career as his correctional service side eye making it past the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League tie against Zimbabwe’s champions Dynamos.
The Sunday Express previews the formidable task that lies ahead for Lesotho’s league champions ahead of their trip to Harare for the tie next week.
Masheshena, as LCS are affectionately known, take on Dynamos in the first leg of the CAF Champions League in Harare on February 17.
Mokhothu is confident that his experienced side that won two successive league titles in the last two years can come of age and prove they are now a force to be reckoned with in the continental club competition.
“It’s a big task, the players are aware that Dynamos is a great side with a rich history in the continental competition, but they are determined to do well and fly the flag of our country high,” Mokhothu said.
“I have been informed that they had their preparations in China and played a few high profile friendly matches leading to our game and surely it boosted their confidence.”
He added: “We did not have the best preparations leading to this match considering that we have only played a friendly game against Free State Stars while our last league match was in December last year.”
Mokhothu told this paper that they will play Botswana’s Gaborone United in their last preparatory match in Gaborone on Tuesday.
Masheshena will be without the duo of top striker Lawrence Molengoana and defender Paseka Morongoane for the first leg match in Harare.
However, Mokhothu said though they will miss the services of the injured duo, he feels the available players will do the job for him.
LCS veteran defender, Moitheri Ntobo, who has tasted international football at both club and national team level, told the Sunday Express that determination and the hunger to go past the preliminary stage can help them eliminate the Zimbabwean champions.
“Yes, playing only two international friendly matches might have a negative impact in us not doing well, but I think we learned from last year’s mistakes in the same competition and we will try to make things right this time around,” Ntobo said.
Ntobo, who has also had a spell with Tunisian side Union Sportive Monastir, said his team is in high spirits ahead of the tough encounter against Dynamos.
Former Likuena captain, Tšepo Hlojeng, told the Sunday Express that he feels the LCS team has not prepared well for a match against a powerful side like Dynamos.
The lanky defender played the continental club competition with Likhopo and was the skipper of the Likuena team that reached the finals of the regional Cosafa Cup in 2000.
“Though I feel their preparations this year are a bit better compared to last year, I still think it was not enough for such an important competition against such a strong team as Dynamos,” Hlojeng said.
He said the competitiveness in the domestic league doesn’t also help our teams going into such important continental fixtures.
“I also feel the LCS squad is not as competitive as it used to be a few years ago when they had two quality players in each position vying for a place in the starting line-up,” he said.
LCS was last year knocked out in the preliminary round by Uganda Revenue Authority with a 0-3 aggregate score.
Masheshena have been knocked out by clubs such as Platinum Stars of South African in the same stage in the previous years.
Analyses of the LCS squad:
Kholuoe Phasumane and Sam Ketsekile
Mokhothu is spoiled for choice in the goalkeeping department as he can start any of Phasumane or Ketsekile as both have played international football at both club and national team level.
The two goalkeepers have been with the team for years now and were in recent months included in the Likuena squad that played in the World Cup qualifiers.
Moitheri Ntobo: the lanky defender is a reliable man in the heart of defence, brings leadership qualities into the team and has scored on a number of occasions from set-pieces.
He is the captain of the senior national team and captains the LCS team in the absence of regular skipper Khoto Sesing. He has also had a spell with Tunisian outfit Union Sportive Monastir.
Tšepo George: The diminutive full -back joined LCS from Likhopo and has been a regular member of the team and also featured in the two matches against Uganda Revenue Authority last year.
George was a regular member of the national junior teams, but has struggled to break into Leslie Notsi’s Likuena team.
The full-back has a gifted left foot and is known for his attacking abilities from defence and gives the team options going forward.
However, his height has proved to be a problem especially in continental competitions where they face stronger and bigger opponents.
Katleho Lethabela: The exciting defender has been used in different positions and can play as a central defender or as the right back. He also gives the team options in attack and is a free kick specialist.
Likano Teele: another of the LCS’ versatile defenders signed from Bantu at the start of this league campaign.
He can play as a right-back and has also been paired along Ntobo in central defence.
Midfielders: this has been the strongest department of the LCS team that won two successive league titles in the past seasons.
Anchorman Ralekoti Mokhahlane and Lieta Lehloka are the two key men operating in the midfield.
Both are skillful and bring a lot of creativity into the team. They work hard to win the ball and provide strikers with match winning passes.
The hard-working Mokhahlane has won matches on his own for Masheshena and can play a vital role if LCS is to register a victory over Dynamos.
Mokhothu can also call on the experience and versatility of the talented Kutloisiso Nthonyana.
The left footed veteran midfield continues to play good football and can prove vital against the Zimbabwean champions.
He remains one of a few members of the Likuena team that reached the finals of the Cosafa Cup in 2000 who are still playing at the highest level.
Strikers: Injury to star striker, Lawrence Molengoana, has been a big blow to this LCS team.
The former Matlama forward has been in a good vein of form in the last two seasons and is a key member of the team.
Mokhothu can count on veteran strikers Thulo Ranchobe and Thabane Rankara in his absence to get the goals against Dynamos.
The two strikers were once premier league top goal scorers in the league and have also played international football with the national team.