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Ramabele gets call-up




Luciah Phahla


Lesotho interim coach Moses Maliehe has recalled Likhopo hit-man Lehlomela Ramabele for Likuena’s crucial double header of 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Seychelles later this month.

The squad named by Maliehe on Monday sees only five players remain from former coach Seephephe Matete’s last selection. And Ramabele, who was constantly overlooked by Matete, has been rewarded for his fine form this season.

The former Under-20 striker has struck 10 goals in the Vodacom Premier League this season, one shy of Matlama’s Motebang Sera’s leading mark, and his addition will hopefully bring firepower to a recently goal-shy Likuena team.

Lesotho has only scored five goals in its last seven matches and needs two wins against Seychelles to have any hopes of qualifying from Group J which also contains Algeria and Ethiopia.

Likuena currently prop up the group after losses to Ethiopia and Algeria in their opening two games. The side faces Seychelles away on March 26 before a clash at Setsoto Stadium three days later.

Speaking to thepost on Tuesday, Ramabele expressed delight over his call-up saying it is every player’s dream to represent their country, especially at a major tournament like the AFCON.

He cited personal differences with Matete as the reason behind his previous Likuena snubs.

“I love my country and it is every player’s dream to be called to the national squad. I am really happy that coach (Maliehe) called me and that shows I am not forgotten. Coaches are different, they call players they believe will do the work for them and that was the case with the previous coach (Matete),” he said.

The Likuena squad began a training camp on Monday and Ramabele said the team is “determined to fight until the end” when it visits Seychelles.

He pointed to the hunger in the group as the reason for his confidence.

“I honestly think the coach made the right selection because all the players that have been called up have been longing to play for Likuena for a long time,” Ramabele said. “Now they have been given a chance and coach called them because he believes in them.”

Seychelles beat Likuena in the COSAFA Cup last May in South Africa but Ramabele said that encounter will be a useful resource in Lesotho’s preparations.

“I do not see Seychelles winning here,” he asserted.

“They beat us in the COSAFA Cup but I think we have learnt what kind of a team they are although they might have changed their squad like us. But, if you look at them they are really not a strong team,” he added.

Commenting on his performances for Likhopo that caught Maliehe’s eye, Ramabele said he is “in a good space” and so is the club.

Likhopo are sixth in the league and are in contention for a top four spot under rookie coach Shalane Lehohla.

“Compared to past seasons when the club faced a lot challenges, I think we have done well this season. We have got a coach who understands us and I am happy with how I have been performing this season,” he said.

Algeria leads Group J with six points from two games; Ethiopia is second with four points followed by Seychelles with one point.

Ramabele and Lesotho are hoping to get off the mark against Seychelles.

Lesotho’s squad

Goalkeepers: Daniel Jousse (Lesotho Correctional Service) Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli)

Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Basia Makepe, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Nkesi Rankhasa (Matlama) Sepiriti Malefane (Bantu)

Midfielders: Jerry Kamela, Tšoanelo Koetle (Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Jane ThabaNtšo, Kefuoe Mahula (Matlama)

Strikers: Lehlomela Ramabele (Likhopo), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Thabiso Brown and Motlalepula Chabeli (Kick4life)


Group J standings

1. Algeria 2 2 0 0 7 1 6 6
2. Ethiopia 2 1 1 0 3 2 1 4
3. Seychelles 2 0 1 1 1 5 -4 1
4. Lesotho 2 0 0 2 2 5 -3 0



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