Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lesotho goes down to Ethiopia in opening AFCON qualifier

Lesotho suffered a 2-1 defeat to Ethiopia in its opening 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier played this afternoon in Addis Ababa.
70,000 turned out at the Addis Ababa Stadium
Likuena were unable to hold on to Bokang Mothoana’s first half strike at a packed at Addis Ababa Stadium.

Lesotho took the lead in the 41st minute but Ethiopia dominated the second half and equalised in the 64th minute through Gatoch Panon.

The Walias continued to pile on the pressure and found the winner in the 78th minute through their captain Saladin Said. In the other game in Group J, Algeria beat the Seychelles 4-0 to take the early lead in the group. Lesotho’s next group game is against Algeria in Maseru in September.

Only the group winners are guaranteed a place in Gabon in 2017.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Big tie for Lesotho

Big Sunday for Lesotho
Lesotho begins its 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign on Sunday with a game away to Ethiopia.

It is the next stage of a busy year for Likuena.

Next Friday Lesotho hosts Botswana in the first leg of a 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier.

Sunday’s game also represents a critical juncture.

The team is coming off a disappointing COSAFA Cup campaign where Likuena took several steps backwards. Lesotho was knocked out in the group stage of the tournament and did not cover itself in glory. Likuena meekly lost 2-1 to Madagascar and 2-0 to Swaziland before beating Tanzania 1-0 in a dead rubber game.

The team’s display raised numerous concerns which caretaker coach Seephephe Matete has sought to allay but making five changes to his squad.

But, the evidence from the COSAFA Cup suggests Likuena’s problems are deeper than personnel.

Whether Matete was using the tournament as testing ground has not been clarified but the line-ups he selected were not cohesive and made little sense.

Worryingly, there was a lack of direction and further evidence Lesotho has fallen away from the stable, if unspectacular, base Leslie Notši established in his three years in charge from 2011 to early 2014.

Under Notši, Likuena made steady yearly progress which culminated in the team’s run to the COSAFA Cup semi-finals in 2013. That performance was the result of consistency in style and squad selection, and there was still promise for improvement.

On the back of that momentum Lesotho progressed past Liberia and Kenya last year to make the group stage qualifiers for the 2015 AFCON. Matete was in charge by then but those were the last signs of progression.

While fans were not expecting miracles from a tough group that included Gabon, Burkina Faso and Angola, Lesotho’s campaign was poor. After a 1-1 draw with Gabon at the start of the group, Likuena’s displays petered out badly.

The team’s lack of purpose was carried into the COSAFA Cup.

An example was the deployment of Tšoanelo Koetle at right-back to start the tournament. As soon as he was moved to his preferred position in midfield he was the team’s top performer. Why was Koetle used at fullback? What was the long-term plan?

Koetle was likely pushed into the role because the squad was short on defenders to start with.

Unfortunately it seems the same mistakes are being repeated.

Koetle has once again been selected amongst the defence, a group of only five players. There are only two recognised centre-backs in the squad, Nkau Lerotholi and Motiki Mohale. Mohale, however, has been campaigning in the first division with Lerotholi Polytechnic. He’s new to the senior set-up and seems unlikely to start on Sunday.
Likuena midfielder Mabuti Potloane
It means Matete is planning to have Thapelo Mokhehle, a left-back by trade, partner Lerotholi in central defence.

The lack of a recognised right-back in the squad may mean Koetle plays there again, robbing the side of his presence in the critical central midfield area. The only other option is to play Thabiso Mohapi at right-back, but he has been listed in the midfielders group.

It is this type of confusion that has characterised Likuena over the past seven months and fails to inspire confidence.

At least Matete has recalled the prolific Litšepe Marabe after leaving him out of the COSAFA Cup squad.

Still, Likuena’s squad looks light-weight and feels completely different from the way it was a year ago.

What the public wants to see is how the coach picks his team on Sunday. What ideas Matete has; which direction he has in mind; a plan.

That may be even more important than the result on Sunday because right now Lesotho is drifting backwards.

Lesotho Squad
Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane (Lioli), Kananelo Makhooane (Likhopo)

Defenders: Tšoanelo Koetle (Lioli), Thapelo Mokhehle (Bantu) Nkau Lerotholi (Matlama), Jeremia Kamela (Lioli), Motiki Mohale (Lerotholi Polytechnic)

Midfielders: Bokang Mothoana (Likhopo), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Motlalepula Mofolo (Lioli), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Jane ThabaNtšo (Matlama), Teboho Lekhooa (Matlama), Thabiso Mohapi (Bantu), Bushy Moletsane (Lioli)

Strikers: Thabiso Brown (Kick4Life), Tumelo Khutlang (Sundawana), Nkoto Masoabi (Lioli) Litšepe Marabe (Bantu)

FIFA Rankings

Ethiopia v Lesotho
14 June 2015 - 16:00 (Ethiopia time)
AFCON Qualifier
Addis Ababa Stadium
Addis Ababa

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Lesotho Squad v Ethiopia

Likuena squad for 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier v Ethiopia

Goalkeepers: Mohau Kuenane (Lioli), Kananelo Makhooane (Likhopo)

Defenders: Nkau Lerotholi (Matlama), Thapelo Mokhehle (Bantu), Jerry Kamela (Lioli), Thabiso Mohapi (Bantu), Nkesi Rankhasa (Matlama), Shetsane Ramoseeka (Lioli)

Midfielders: Bokang Mothoana (Likhopo), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Bushy Moletsane (Lioli), Tšoanelo Koetle (Lioli), Motlalepula Mofolo (Lioli), Teboho Lekhooa (Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Tumelo Khutlang (Sundawana), Jane Thabantšo (Matlama)

Strikers: Thapelo Tale (Likhopo), Thabiso Brown (Kick 4 Life), Nkoto Masoabi (Lioli) Litšepe Marabe (Bantu)

Ethiopia v Lesotho
14 June 2015 - 16:00 (Ethiopia time)
AFCON Qualifier
Addis Ababa Stadium
Addis Ababa