Likuena face Bafana Bafana in the COSAFA Cup

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU – The Lesotho senior national team, Likuena, face Bafana Bafana in next month’s Council of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) Cup Tournament. Likuena was yesterday drawn against the COSAFA Cup hosts Bafana Bafana, Botswana’s Zebras and eSwatini’s Isihlangu in Group A.

This is while the defending champions, Zambia, have been drawn against Malawi, Madagascar and Comoros in Group B. African football powerhouses and guest contestants at this year’s COSAFA Cup Tournament, Senegal, have on the other hand been drawn against Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia in Group C.

The COSAFA Cup Tournament has been scheduled from July 2 to 17 in South Africa. Likuena coach, Thabo Senong, has also just announced a 36-man provisional squad on Wednesday, a day before the COSAFA draw.

Senong left out several key players that were fingered during the side’s disastrous performance at the recent Three Nations Tournament in Mozambique.

Among the dropped players are the Bantu quartet, Tšoanelo Koetle, Litšepe Marabe, Hlompho Kalake and Tau Masiu.

These are the players who reports indicated flouted camp rules and misbehaved during the Mozambique games a fortnight ago, according to Bantu Communications and Marketing Manager, Bokang Phasumane.

“We received a letter from the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) before, indicating that our players were smoking marijuana at the Likuena camp,” said Phasumane in an interview with Public Eye yesterday.

“LeFA’s letter was specific about the names of the players, namely Litšepe Marabe, Hlompho Kalake, Tau Masiu and Tšoanelo Koetle.”

Phasumane further said: “But we asked them to come so that we could discuss the players’ issue together and they haven’t replied until today.”

The national team was humiliated 5-0 by Mozambique before going down 1-0 to eSwatini in their last match at the tournament.

The trip to Maputo was also marred by off-the-field escapades, with Matlama utility player Thabo Matšoele making the headlines for the wrong reasons after he was caught on CCTV cameras at the hotel where the team was staying stealing money from the team manager’s room.

Senong also announced upon the team’s return that talented Bantu utility player Koetle, who was making a return to the national team after a long absence, gave him a tough time as “he is difficult to work with”.

At the time the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) could only announce that several of the players that were in the squad were caught on camera smoking marijuana though they decided not to reveal their names.

Senong has since dropped Matlama goalkeeper, Monaheng Ramalefane, Bantu defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi and Matšoele, who were all part of the team that lost the two games in Mozambique.

Matšoele and Koetle were not going to make the Likuena squad for the COSAFA Cup as Senong promised upon the team’s arrival from Mozambique due to stealing money and misbehaviour respectively.

“Of course, the main objective is to do well in the tournament. We obviously had to be brave when we brought in new players, we also have to maybe exclude some, especially players that have been in the set up,” Senong told the media.

“But then again, you have to be mindful that the youth you are trying to bring in must be gelled and mixed with some experienced players because you want to balance that competitiveness in the team as much as you are also developing and rebuilding as well.

With regard the criteria, it is always important to look at the character of the player. Is he coachable, can he integrate with new players, new coaches, is he disciplined, and does he understand the importance of representing the badge/national flag? Those are some of the things we look at.”

Senong has retained some senior members of the team such as Captain Basia Makepe, Jane Thabantṧo while Motebang Sera leads a group of players playing their football out of the country.

The likes of Kopano Tseka, Nkau Lerotholi, Rethabile Rasethuntša and Bokang Sello have also been recalled into the team.

Senong has also given call-ups to youngsters such as Shali Lekhotla of Lifofane, Koenehelo Mothala of LCS, Jessy Matsie of Lioli, Monyatheli Ntobo of LMPS and Likhopo’s Thabiso Mari.

Lesotho provisional squad for COSAFA

Goalkeepers: Sekhoane Moerane (LMPS) Teboho Ratibisi (LDF), Jersey Matsie (Lioli).

Defenders: Thabang Malane (LCS), Mokoteli Mohapi (K4L), Thabo Mongali (LDF), Bokang Sello (Bantu), Lesia Thetsane (Kaw Valley (US), Kopano Tseka (LCS), Lisema Lebokollane (Matlama), Basia Makepe (LMPS), Nkau Lerotholi (LMPS), Rethabile Rasethuntša (Linare), Shali Lekhotla (Lifofane), Kabai Mohlatsana (Gadner Web(US).

Midfielders: Thabo Lesaoana (Bantu), Koenehelo Mothala (Linare), Tumelo Ngatane (LCS), Tšepo Toloane (LDF), Koete Mohloai (LDF), Tseole Ranthimo (Linare), Tšoarelo Bereng – (TTM-SA), Neo Mokhachane (Bantu), Jane Tšotleho (Bantu), Tumelo Khutlang (Black Leopards), Tumelo Makha (Lioli), Lehlohonolo Fothoane (Bantu), Napo Matsoso (Louisville City-US), Moteloa Khemisi (Matlama ), Thabo Seakhoa ( LCS), Jane Thabantso (Matlama).

Forwards: Thabiso Mari (FC Likhopo), Thabiso Brown (EMDH-Bolivia)

Motebang Sera (Bloemfontein Celtic), Nkoto Masoabi (unattached), Monyatheli Ntobo (LMPS).

 

 

 

 

 

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