MASERU — Lesotho national soccer team coach Leslie Notši is pleased with his side’s improvement ahead of their two-match tour this week.
Likuena face Namibia tomorrow evening in Windhoek and then clash with the Democratic Republic of Congo next week.
The team left the country on Friday and will return home after the Namibia game before departing again for the match with the DRC next Sunday in Pretoria.
Speaking to the Sunday Express before their departure, Notši said the aim of the two matches was to build on progress made over the past two months including a 2-1 win away against Botswana last month.
The final goal of course is Likuena’s 2014 Fifa World Cup preliminary qualifier against Burundi which will be played over two legs on November 11 and 15, respectively.
“Our camp has been quite good; there have been improvements on many aspects. We have our physical trainer who has been doing a good job with the team.
“The improvement is visible. We have also improved on the tactical side of the game,” Notši said.
Notši has often stated the need to improve on these two areas which he said would lead to a more consistent performance.
“The biggest thing we wanted was consistency and to play at a high tempo. Yes, you can’t play at high tempo for the whole 90 minutes, but tactical discipline is crucial,” he said.
The coach has chosen a 20-man squad for the two games.
The outfit has three new faces from the one which played in last month’s matches against Swaziland and Botswana.
LCS’ Lawrence Molengoane and Matlama’s Pali Tšalong have been rewarded for their good club form while Katleho Moleko makes a return to the senior set-up.
Apart from Moleko, the squad is made up of locally based players.
Lesotho’s foreign based contingent will only come into contention after the DRC game because the two friendlies fall outside Fifa dates.
Amongst those in line for a call-up are Tunisia-based Bokang Mothoana, Bushy Moletsane, Lehlomela Ramabele and Litšepe Marabe who are plying their trade in Botswana, as well as Thapelo Tale who has found his scoring boots with FK Srem in Serbia.
Captain Lehlohonolo Seema remains sidelined by injury.
On Wednesday Likuena played a preparation game against First Division side Sefothafotha at the Setsoto Stadium and ran out 5-1 winners.
The goals came from Molengoane, Moleko, Ralekoti Mokhahlane, Mosiuoa Boseka and Dlomo Monapathi.
“There were a lot of positives. It was a match where we were looking at our combinations,” Notši said.
“We had Katleho, who was with us for the first time. There was Lawrence who was with us for the first camp but we had sent him back to work on certain aspects of his play. He has improved and this has shown us that we have made the right decision,” Notši said.
Notši said the additions of Moleko, Molengoane and Tšalong were intended to give the side a more attacking edge.
“We are playing a knockout game, so our game has to be attack minded,” he said.
Last month Lesotho played two friendly games at home against Swaziland, drawing 0-0 and losing 1-0 in the other.
“These results showed that we were solid defensively but we were struggling to create chances,” Notši said. “Chances are being created and we are reaching the opponents’ goalmouth but we need to translate this into goals.”
Notši said there would be a lot competition upfront.
“Plans are in place to secure the services of Thapelo Tale from Serbia and Lehlomela who is with Botswana Defence Force XI. There is also Thulo, Lawrence and Dlomo,” Notši said. “It’s good for the team when there is competition, everyone is on their toes.”
Moitheri Ntobo is expected to take over the captain’s armband in the absence of Seema.
“Moitheri was deputising for Lehlohonolo Seema. He is now the captain,” Notši said.
He said he was pleased with the match-ups as they would provide them with a stern test. Likuena has faced Namibia on eight occasions with the last coming in 2008.
“I’m happy, we played Namibia in the Cosafa Under-20 last December and most of those players have been promoted to the senior side. They did very well in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches.
“It’s a long time having played them at senior level so they are a closed book and we are happy about that,” Notši said.
“DRC have TP Mazembe and they reached the final of the World Club Cup last year. Most of those players are now in the DRC senior side. That’s what we really need to test ourselves ahead of the game against Burundi,” he said.
The game against Burundi will be an evening game at the Setsoto stadium.
“I ask for support from Basotho and their patience as well,” Notši said.
“I would have liked the DRC game to be played in Maseru as well so that our players get used to playing in front of a big crowd before the Burundi tie.
“When you are used to playing in front of 1 500 fans during the day and now you to play in front of 10 000 in the evening it makes a difference,” he added.
“It would have been very advantageous. It should be an atmosphere that they are used to. It would have been good psychologically.”
But with just over two weeks to go to the vital clash Notši said he was happy with the pool of players that he has created. The side can now look positively towards coming challenges.
“There is a pool and it hasn’t been easy. The players have been very positive and worked hard. They deserve to be in the team,” he said.