MASERU — Lesotho’s Under-20 coach Leslie Notši has expressed confidence ahead of today’s crucial preliminary CAF Under-20 Youth Championship qualifier against Mozambique at Setsoto Stadium.
Notši said Makoanyane XI were ready to steamroll over their Mozambican counterparts.
The match comes hard on the heels of the Lesotho Under-17 side’s 3-1 win over Mozambique in another continental tournament qualifier last Sunday.
“The team is ready, everything has gone well,” Notši told the Sunday Express on Thursday.
“The morale is very good on and off the field.”
Notši’s charges have been training together since the Metropolitan Human Rights Four Nations Under-20 tournament held in South Africa last month.
“I can say we are confident looking at the performance and preparation I have seen in training,” the coach said.
“We have been trying to get the team to play as a team and offensively and defensively they have done well.”
Today’s game will be the Under-20s’ first official match since the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) disbanded Likuena in February and said the youth side would form the core of the future senior national team.
Notši said he believed his team would find motivation in playing at Setsoto, the country’s only national stadium which has not been available in the last two years because of major renovations.
“Most of our players have not played at the national stadium before,” he noted.
“But we should take it as motivation to play in such an arena.
“I’m trying to motivate the players so that they can take advantage of the home leg.”
Notši however said he did not expect Mozambique to make it easy for his charges.
“We know that it is not going to be easy,” he said.
“People might think that it is (going to be easy) looking at the win by our Under-17 team.
“But we saw them (Mozambique Under-20s) at the Cosafa Under-20 Championships last year and they are a very good team.”
Four players have been drafted in to bolster the squad which finished third at the Four Nations tournament including striker Lehlomela Ramabele, who joined Botswana Premier League team Botswana Defence Force XI in January.
“The exposure he has gained will benefit the team,” Notši said, referring to Ramabele.
“And that is one area we have tried to work on the most — the striking department.
“We have worked hard on our finishing because it is something that has let us down in the past.”
The other additions to the 26-man squad are defender Motiki Mohale, midfielder Refiloe Mothai and striker Tsietsi Tikiso.
Notši said he was pleased with the make-up of the squad which he said was the strongest possible and includes six players from Vodacom Premier League leaders Matlama.
“I’m happy with the squad. It’s a balanced group,” Notši said.
Although Notši conceded it was important not to concede an away goal ahead of the second leg in two weeks’ time, he said Makoanyane XI’s focus would be on scoring as many goals as possible.
“A 3-0 or 2-0 win would be a great result, but if the opportunities are there to score more goals then why not?” he said.
“I don’t always like to predict the score but we would like to score as many goals as we can.”
Today is the start of the long road to try to emulate the Makoanyane XI side which reached the CAF Under-20 Youth Championship in 2004, Lesotho’s last appearance at a continental tournament.
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