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Victory can act as launch-pad: Ntobo

Mikia Kalati

MASERU — Veteran defender and Likuena captain, Moitheri Ntobo, says victory over Ghana in a World Cup qualifier at Setsoto Stadium this afternoon will set them on a strong footing for the regional Cosafa Cup tournament next month.
Lesotho are out of the running for the Brazil tournament after they fell to Zambia in Ndola last weekend.
Ntobo said he is confident matches against top-rated sides like Zambia and Ghana will help them consolidate their build-up for tournaments such as next month’s Cosafa Cup and the qualification for the 2014 African Cup of Nations.
“We know qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil is out of our reach, but that should not stop us from doing our country proud,” Ntobo said.
“We should now concentrate on the Cosafa Cup and other competitions coming up in the future.”
He added: “We all had hope after the one-all draw against Zambia in the first leg match, however things fell apart in the 0-4 loss to Zambia last Saturday,” said Ntobo.
“It was a major blow that adversely affected the team’s performance and morale,” he said.
“We have to put it behind us and focus on making the nation proud after today’s match.”
Ntobo, who is one of the long-serving members in the Likuena side, said they should go all-out to win the tie against Ghana as it will be the last home match of the World Cup campaign.
“Playing teams such as Ghana is a motivation by itself, our advantage will be the home ground and the fact that we are unbeaten at home in the last four competitive matches,” said Ntobo.
Likuena will be without star player, Bokang Mothoana, who was injured in the warm-up match against South Africa a fortnight ago.
Lioli fullback, Ngoako Mapheele, who recently earned a call-up into the team, is expected to start in the left-back position as he did in last Saturday’s 0-4 loss to Zambia.
Coach Leslie Notši has also recalled midfielder maestro, Bushy Moletsane, who brings a lot of creativity into the team.
The Lesotho coach made it clear during the week that their intention is to win the match.
The Black Stars head into today’s match against Lesotho motivated following last Friday’s 3-1 win over Sudan.
They are second in Group D with nine points, just one behind leaders Zambia.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah told reporters on their way to Lesotho that he is not underrating the Mountain Kingdom’s side ahead of today’s 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Maseru.
“Immediately after the last Friday’s game, I drew their attention to the fact that the Sudan game is over and we need to start thinking about the match against Lesotho,” Appiah said.
“We take each game as it comes. We need to forget about Sudan and put full concentration on the Lesotho game.
“There is nothing like jubilation at this time because we need to get two wins.”
The West African country beat Lesotho 7-0 in the first leg match played in Kumasi in June last year.
Probable Likuena starting line-up

Mohau Kuenane
The Lioli goalkeeper started ahead of Kholuoe Phasumane in last week’s loss to Zambia and could keep his place in the team despite the four goals conceded against Chipolopolo.
Thabo Masuale
The Tšenola born defender has been the preferred choice in the right-back position and has made it his own with the opening match away to Ghana around this time last year.
Masualle has proved himself as one of the best defenders in the country. However some people feel he should be competing for a place in central defence as that is where he plays for his team on a regular basis.
Ngoako Mapheele
The Lioli fullback recently earned a call-up into the team as the back-up to first choice Bokang Mothoana, and the injury to Mothoana has seen Mapheele taking over in the left-back position since the warm-up match against Bafana Bafana.
Nkau Lerotholi and Moitheri Ntobo
The duo have been partnered together for the better part of this World Cup qualifier campaign.
Ntobo has played all the matches while Lerotholi missed the first leg match against Zambia in March.
The two defenders will have to be at their best to stop the Ghana attacking line led by striker Asamoah Gyan.
They have been solid in the home matches and kept a clean sheet against Sudan, Burundi and Sao Tome in the previous competitive matches.
The biggest challenge for the Likuena coach will be getting it right in the midfield where Ralekoti Mokhahlane and Motlalepula Mofolo have been the key players for the team.
The diminutive Mokhahlane who has made the team tick was not at his usual best in the previous two matches and will have to regain his form to help the team register a win over Ghana.
He could once again continue his partnership with Mofolo while the creative Bushy Moletsane will be used in the playmaking role.
Litšepe was on the treatment table leading to this match and could start on the bench while the Likuena mentor will surely be tempted to give the just ended Vodacom premier league’s top goal scorer, Tšepo Seturumane, a chance to prove his capabilities at the highest stage.
Tšepo Lekhooana
The Maluti FET College striker has been the main man for Likuena in attack, but was frustrated by lack of support from his teammates against South Africa.
However, the inclusion of the creative Moletsane in the playmaking role could help take the load away from Lekhooana.
The striker is strong on the ball, makes dangerous runs and is not afraid to fight with defenders.
Lehlomela Ramabele is another of the players who has shown hunger and should be tipped to start leading in the encounter against Ghana.
Though he has not been the same player he was a year ago, Ramabele has showed signs of helping the team overcome their goal scoring problems and is vying for a role as a striker partner for Lekhooana against the Black Stars.

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