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Do-or-die for Likuena



Luciah Phahla


After winning the first two games, Lesotho caretaker coach Moses Maliehe says his side has set its sights on capturing the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia.

Likuena are top of Group B but face a do-or-die clash against Malawi this evening to decide who wins the group and progresses to the quarter-finals.

Currently, the sides are level with six points and the winner of the much-anticipated clash will meet South Africa in the quarters on Saturday.

Because of their superior goal difference, Likuena can also advance with a draw.

Speaking after Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Angola, Maliehe praised his side’s character. He admitted today’s game against Malawi will be tough but said Likuena are prepared and looking to go far in the tournament.

“I am really happy. The players are working hard and we want to achieve the things we have set, things we talked about. It is not going to be an easy game (against Malawi). Every team is determined to win the COSAFA and, just like any team, we are also determined to win the tournament,” Maliehe said.

Likuena started their campaign with a 3-0 rout of Mauritius on Sunday autographed by goals from Jeremea Kamela, Motebang Sera and Jane Thaba-Ntšo whose strike after just 34 seconds set the record for the fastest goal in the tournament’s history.

Lesotho’s second tie, against Angola, was a much closer affair but Maliehe’s charges ran out 2-0 victors thanks to goals from Tumelo Khutlang and Hlompho Kalake.

Again Likuena looked a much improved side with Khutlang constantly putting the Angolan defence under pressure before he gave Lesotho the lead in the 11th minute.

Settled by Khutlang’s early goal, Likuena took control of the first half and were unlucky not to double their lead before the break.

The second half started with Angola taking the game to Lesotho in search of an equaliser.

However, Lesotho’s defence and goalkeeper Daniel Jousse held firm allowing Kalake to seal the game in the 80th minute from the penalty spot after the enterprising Khutlang was fouled.

Against Angola, Maliehe made only one change to the team that beat Mauritius with Sepiriti Malefane starting in defence in place of Kamela who limped off in the second half of the opening game.

MONTOELI SONOPOIt is unclear if the versatile midfielder will miss the clash against Malawi but what is clear is the side is high on confidence.

In two games, Likuena have scored five goals and conceded none and former national team coach, Leslie Notši, who guided Lesotho to the COSAFA Castle Cup semi-finals in 2013 in Zambia, said he has been following the team’s progress in Namibia.

Notši noted there is confidence within the team adding he is impressed with how the defence has been playing.

“They are playing really well. I am following their games in Namibia and I can say there is a lot of improvement within the team. There is confidence and the defence is playing with confidence. Another thing is they are winning games because they are scoring goals, they have an attacking plan,” he said.

Notši said Likuena need to stick to their style of play to overcome Malawi.

“I think they must go and enjoy themselves,” he added. “I am not saying they should just be playing, they must come with a game-plan but they must not put themselves under pressure. They must continue with what they are good at and stick to it,” he said.

On Malawi, Notši said: “I have been watching Malawi, they are very aggressive, physical and they run a lot. Likuena also have speed and they must use it to eliminate Malawi’s threat. (Likuena) must force them to play in their own half and make sure they score goals.”

The current Kick4Life coach reflected on his tenure with Likuena in 2013 when they reached the COSAFA Castle Cup semi-finals. He said the tournament offers a valuable opportunity to face quality opposition and varied styles of play.

“It was not easy at all (in 2013) because I remember we played Botswana, Kenya and Swaziland. You play teams that are still fresh and have been watching us play, and we come with injuries while they have not played. But, sometimes it’s good because by the time we meet them there is morale in the team,” he said.

“The COSAFA Cup gives you a chance to play against different teams (which is) something that is otherwise not easy to achieve even in a year. I think we played six games there (in Zambia) and that’s big.”

Notši concluded by singing Maliehe’s praises.

“Football needs a very brave person and I think he is brave, he was under pressure after losing (against Ethiopia) but they have bounced back. He got an agreement with (the Lesotho Football Association) and he is sticking to it and he is building the team. I wish him all the best in the COSAFA Cup,” Notši said.


COSAFA Castle Cup Group B standings:

1 Lesotho 2 2 0 0 5 0 5 6
2 Malawi 2 2 0 0 4 0 4 6
3 Mauritius 2 0 0 2 0 4 -4 0
4 Angola 2 0 0 2 0 5 -5 0




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