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Potloane rallies nation

by Sunday Express
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Iconic midfielder says Basotho should not abandon Likuena when the team needs them most

Moorosi Tsiane

Midfield kingpin Mabuti Potloane has called on Basotho not to abandon Likuena in the team’s greatest hour of need.

Likuena host Ethiopia at Setsoto Stadium today in the return fixture of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group J match after losing the first leg 2-1 away from home.

Potloane told the Sunday Express that fans should not judge the players on the three friendly defeats they recently suffered against Botswana and Swaziland and says those losses taught them a harsh lesson which has since made them a better team.

After accumulating three points from four matches, Lesotho are bottom of Group J, which is  topped by Algeria (13 points from five matches), Ethiopia (five points from four matches) and Seychelles (four points from five matches).

Algeria clinched their place at the finals on Thursday with a 2-0 win in Seychelles, leaving the other teams fighting for a second-place finish that could secure them qualification for the Gabon tournament as best runners-up.

But Potloane believes the new-look team would hold its own against the visitors and make the nation proud once again. Caretaker coach Moses Maliehe has assembled a relatively new squad since he took over from Seephephe Matete in October last year and Potloane believes it is only a matter of time before the players strike an understanding that would make them a formidable foe.

“I think what we must first look at is that this is practically a new team and we are in a rebuilding phase.

“All the same, in our last three defeats against Botswana and Swaziland, we learnt a lot and we will go into Sunday’s tie a much better team,” Potloane said.

“We need Basotho’s support now more than ever because these are trying times for the team. It is only through their support that we can pass this difficult phase the team has been going through. Fans must come to our matches to support and not break us as a team.”

The iconic Matlama playmaker admits it would not be easy to beat Ethiopia who still fancy their chances of qualifying for next year’s Nations Cup tournament in Gabon as best runners-up but insists the players are  determined to give their best and end the campaign on a positive note.

“The players understand our pride as a nation is at stake here so we are going to give our best to see to it that we win this match, although it is not going to be easy. Again, winning this match will help us go to the Cosafa tournament in Namibia later this month, with our heads high,” he said.

“It is not good that we are losing matches so we need to start having that winning culture so that it becomes easy for us to get positive results because the more we win, the more we gain confidence.”

The Matlama forward further said a lapse in concentration was still their biggest worry.

“It is really worrying we concede especially towards the end of the match and also that we are not scoring that many goals so we have been working really hard on the two areas.

“Our team is mostly made up of young players but fortunately, most of them have played at junior international level, which makes it a bit easy for them to adjust,” said Potloane.

Likuena squad

Goalkeepers: Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli), Daniel Jouse (LCS).

Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo, Basia Makepe (all Lioli), Sepiriti Malefane (Bantu), Motlomelo Mkhwanazi (Sundawana).

Midfielders: Montoeli Sonopo, Jerry Kamela (both Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Kefuoe Mahula, Jane Thabantšo, Mabuti Potloane, Phafa Tšosane (all Matlama), Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho (Richmond Kickers, US).

Strikers: Thabo Seakhoa (LCS), Motebang Sera (Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Tšepo Seturumane (LMPS).

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