Sun. Aug 18th, 2019

Likuena in tough COSAFA benchmark 

NTHETHE MAPHAONG

MASERU – National soccer team’s head coach Moses Maliehe has a mandate to reach the final of the COSAFA Cup, which is currently underway in Durban, South Africa.

This was said by Likuena’s team manager Rantsubise Matete at a press briefing held at Bambatha Ts’ita Sports Arena on Tuesday.

That seems a tough benchmark to set because Likuena are facing Uganda in the quarter-finals tomorrow. The two teams are fresh from their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying clashes, where Uganda beat Lesotho home and away, both in October last year.

However, Matete who is the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA)’ second vice president, was adamant that Likuena must go beyond the semi-finals. This means Moses Maliehe’s team must beat Uganda tomorrow.

This is while Uganda might optimally use the tournament as a perfect rehearsal for the AFCON tournament coming up in June and July.

“We have reinforced our technical team because we want to produce good results for our national team Likuena, hence we had called James Madidilane of Bantu FC and his goalkeeper coach Posnet Omony to assist our head coach Moses Maliehe,” Matete said.

“We called James Madidilane because of his performance at Bantu FC. Everyone can see that Bantu had been doing well in the league so we thought it will be wise to call the two Bantu coaches, the head coach and the goalkeeper coach.

“Their mandate is to reach to the final of COSAFA. Reaching the semi-finals will not be good enough for the team.”

This year’s COSAFA Cup started last Saturday with a clash between eSwatini and Mauritius at the King Zwelithini Stadium, kicking off a two-week festival of football which will end on June 8.

South Africa face Botswana in the other quarter final contest, while Zimbabwe eagerly awaits the Group A winner. This is while Group B leaders will meet Zambia.

The four winning quarter-finalists will progress to the cup semi-finals, while the losing sides will compete in the plate competition.

Likuena have started the tournament at the quarterfinals in each of the last two editions.

Last year it crashed-out in the semi-finals after losing 3-1 to Zimbabwe before outclassing Madagascar in the third-place play-off, beating them 1-0.

Likuena captain Basia Makepe told Public Eye on the side-lines of the press conference that their game against Uganda will be far from a walk in the park.

“This is not going to be an easy game for us as we all know that the team we are going to play against had participated in a number of cup tournaments in the recent years but we will go there and fight them with everything we have,” Makepe said.

Uganda is a guest country at this year’s COSAFA tourney.

Other countries that have been invited as guests previously are Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Tanzania.

Likuena’s first assistant coach, Mpitsa Marai, said with the wisdom of hindsight, his team was ready to face Uganda.

“Our players are ready to face Uganda; it is going to be eleven against eleven inside the field. We will battle them with everything we have to contain them.”

Marai said they had full three weeks preparing for the competition. He said in the first week they were dealing with mental fitness of the players, while in the second week they were focusing more on the weakness and strengths of our opponents.

Likuena left for Durban on Wednesday.

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