|Raring to go... Lesotho boss Moses Maliehe|
Lesotho caretaker coach Moses Maliehe says he will be taking a brave new young team to the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia from June 11 to 25 and has warned Likuena’s rivals they are not there to make up the numbers.
Lesotho has been drawn in the first round Group B along with Angola, Malawi and Mauritius, giving the side a tough task to reach the quarterfinals.
However Maliehe, who took over the side from Seephephe Matete late November, is confident his team can put on a show and surprise some of the bigger names at the regional showpiece.
“We know it won’t be easy for us in Namibia and we have a completely new team,” Maliehe said. “But, football is football and we have a lot of talented young players who are looking to make a name for themselves.”
“The COSAFA Castle Cup gives them the platform to do that and we are excited to see what we can achieve. We have a lot of experience in junior football and now is the time to make the step up to the senior team. They are very keen to play and we cannot deny them that chance.”
Last month Maliehe selected a 24-man squad to begin preparations for the COSAFA Castle Cup.
Maliehe said the majority of his side is made up of the squad that competed for Lesotho at the 2011 CAF Under-20 Youth Championship, where the country performed admirably on the continental stage. Maliehe was assistant coach to Leslie Notši at that tournament and was Under-20 head coach until last year.
“Most of them come from that 2011 side that went to the African Youth Championships, but then we have also brought in some newer Under-20 players from the team I was coaching previously. It is a good mix,” he said.
Maliehe said that while the COSAFA Castle Cup will be a good platform for his players to gain exposure, they are going to Namibia for far more than just experience alone.
“In the senior national team there is no time for development, it is about competition and winning. I don’t want to talk about using this tournament to develop our players, were are there to compete, play well and win matches,” Maliehe said.
Waiting in the quarterfinals for the winner of Group B is South Africa and Maliehe admitted that would be a special occasion for his side.
Jeremea Kamela is one of the leaders of the new Likuena
“These boys have a history with South Africa from Under-20 level when we lost to them a few times, so we will need no motivation if we make it through to the quarterfinals. That is a game they will be desperate to win,” he said.
Maliehe said the fact the stands in Namibia are likely to be packed with scouts from across the world is a big deal for his players who don’t usually enjoy such an audience.
“It is one of the big advantages of playing in the COSAFA Castle Cup, to allow my players to truly show their ability to scouts and agents who see them as future professionals. My players will be going there to express themselves and grab that opportunity,” he said.
Maliehe also said the standard of the domestic game in Lesotho is improving and he praised the fact that have players have started earning a living from the game.
“It is getting better and better and we now have four clubs who are paying their players’ salaries, which is a big step forward for us. I can say confidently that the future of Lesotho football is bright,” Maliehe said.