By Teboho Molapo
MASERU — Makoanyane XI coach Leslie Notši is preaching caution ahead of what could be the biggest game of his coaching career.
While remaining confident in his team that has taken Lesotho to the verge of a major milestone, Notši is keeping a vigilant eye on the Kenyans who will visit Lesotho on October 24 determined to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit.
Last Sunday Lesotho’s Under-20 side beat Kenya 1-0 in Nairobi and the second leg at Setsoto Stadium will be the last 90 minutes standing in the way of the Makoanyane XI’s qualification for the African Youth Championships in Libya next year and a place among the continent’s cream.
But there is no room for complacency and Notši is wary of the challenge that awaits his team.
“The match is going to be tough,” Notši told the Sunday Express.
“Kenya is a good team and they will come here as wounded tigers.
“To us we have to forget this match (in Nairobi).
“We are taking the second leg as new match, as a cup final, a match in which we have to play as though our lives depend on it.”
In Nairobi, Lesotho’s game went largely according to plan as the young warriors not only grabbed an away goal but victory thanks to a second-minute strike by flying winger Tsebang Lebata.
It was his fourth goal of the qualifying campaign.
“Playing away is always difficult… you encounter a lot of difficulties,” Notši said.
“The home side is always highly motivated and they have the backing of the supporters.
“(But) the performance was good and it shows the boys are coming of age. I’m happy for them.”
“They have shown character,” Notši added.
“They absorbed pressure in a well-calculated manner and I’m happy with the way they behaved under the conditions they were facing
“At the same time they showed that hunger offensively.
“We created a lot of goalscoring opportunities and that was our game plan.”
Notši said he was hoping to arrange a friendly match a week before the second leg.
He said he planned to start training sessions on Tuesday before beginning full camp next Monday.
Makoanyane XI’s preparations will be hampered somewhat by school commitments with eight of the squad members writing exams.
“We have players writing final-year exams and we want to give them a chance,” Notši said.
“The plan is to start on the 5th of October. On the 11th we will begin camp and we are trying to get an international match preferably for the 13th.”
The performances of Lesotho’s national sides at home have not been as impressive as the away assignments away due to a combination of pressure from fans and lack of experience of playing on a demanding stage.
Makoanyane XI lost 2-1 to South Africa while the national Under-17 side lost 3-0 to Cameroon in their continental qualifiers.
Notši pleaded for a supportive crowd for the second leg.
“We will also need luck and very positive support from our supporters,” he said.
“It’s a match for the pride of the country.”