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War at Setsoto

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Teboho Molapo

MASERU — Malawi coach Alex Masanjala says he is confident of victory when his team takes on Lesotho in an All Africa Games qualifier at Setsoto Stadium this afternoon.

The visitors take on an imposing 3-0 lead after the first leg in Blantyre two weeks ago and only need a goal to make it virtually impossible for Lesotho’s Under-23 side to rise from the dead.

“We will try to get an early goal, and then I think that will kill off the game,” Masanjala told the Sunday Express.

“To begin with will we attack but if we don’t score early we will sit back but we will still try to get that goal, normally we are not a defensive team,” he added.

Under the away goals rule if Malawi’s Young Flames score just a goal, Lesotho will have to win by a four-goal margin if they are to progress to the next round of the tournament.

The pressure therefore is all on the home side and a confident-looking Masanjala said they were confident of progression.

“We are confident that we will be able to go through,” Masanjala said.

Malawi arrived in Lesotho on Friday and had a training session at Setsoto yesterday afternoon.

Speaking from the team’s base Masanjala said the rain would not be a problem nor would be the Astroturf pitch at Setsoto which caused problems for some visiting teams last year.

“Its also raining in Malawi, we are in the same climatic region,” Masanjala said.

He said his players were also used to the Astroturf as it is commonly used in Malawian league football.

Malawi is a country on the up and participated in the Africa Cup of Nations last year. Masanjala however admitted that Lesotho were a good team judging by the team’s performance in the first leg.

“They are a good team, they began the game very well in the first leg but we scored two early goals and they became demoralised. But they are quite a good team,” he said.

“I expect a bad performance because I am their rival,” Masanjala joked.

He said only one player, Frank Banda, would be missing because of an injury he sustained in the first leg.

Lesotho meanwhile has injury troubles of its own with the nation’s “find of the season”, Tsebang Lebata, being ruled out because of an injury.

The striker was instrumental in the Makoanyane XI’s form last year.

Midfielder Mosiuoa Boseka and defender Tumisang Bereng are also doubtful for the game.

At least Lesotho can be optimistic because of the Makoanyane XI’s excellent home form.

The majority of Makoanyane XI’s players make up the bulk of the Under-23 side.

For example, Makoanyane XI thumped Mozambique 6-1 in a Caf African Youth Championship qualifier at Setsoto last April.

The Makoanyane XI team eventually qualified for the Caf African Youth Championship scheduled for March.

Leslie Notši’s side will today need the same inspirational form if they are to overturn the deficit.

Lesotho’s junior squad has flattered to deceive recently.

First, came the Metropolitan Cosafa Under-20 Youth Championships in Botswana early last month where Lesotho were knocked out in the first round.

Then came the Under-20 Youth Games in Swaziland where the Makoanyane XI were also knocked out in the group stage, before the 3-0 humbling by Malawi’s Under-23s two weeks ago.

Lesotho will face Malawi this afternoon trying to overcome a 3-0 deficit but perhaps more importantly, trying to regain their killer instinct.

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