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‘We took the Bafana game as official match’

Business

Seabata Mahao

The national football team coach, Leslie Notsi, has attributed their impressive performance to the fact that they treated their practice match against neighbours South Africa as an official game. 

Likuena recently surprised South Africa’s Bafana Bafana by holding them to a goalless draw in their own backyard, ahead of the latter’s departure to the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament in Ivory Coast starting last weekend. 

The draw comes after Bafana Bafana’s coach Hugu Broos last year’s less than impressive comments about Likuena’s quality.

At the time, Broos had implied that his charges would not entertain the inferior Likuena side as it cannot possibly give his team a worthwhile challenge.

Thus, the match result has proved that Likuena can hold its own against its more illustrious opponent, and also served Broos a humble, cold pie to enjoy on his way to Ivory Coast. 

Likuena went into Bafana’s game on the back of a 0-2 setback against Mozambique in another practice match on January 6 this year. 

The national team has lately churned out much improved performances since partying ways with former coach Veselin Jelusic, which promptly led to their fairy tale run to the final of the 2023 COSAFA games under the tutelage of interim coaches, Notsi and Bob Mafoso.

Since then, Likuena has held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw and Benin to a goalless draw in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. 

Reacting to the team’s two recent games, Notsi said they approached the Bafana Bafana game with a point to prove.

“We took the Bafana Bafana game as an official match because there is a lot between Lesotho and South Africa. This match has been important to us as we are preparing for the March 2024 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, and also to give support to Bafana Bafana to their preparations of the continental championships of AFCON in Ivory Coast,” Notsi said.

“We expected tough encounters and it really happened like that. The first half we saw there were certain areas that we needed to improve on, and the second half was great. We are satisfied with the way they conducted themselves,” Notsi stated. 

He further said the draw against South Africa was a fair result as the match was not about the results but for the players to improve their play. 

“Moving forward as Lesotho, there are a lot of good attributes we learned from the matches. We need to improve our creativity and attacking strategy as we need to be clinical,” Notsi explained. 

On his part, Broos said his players showed potential to win the match.

“Today there were some moments in the game where we needed freshness but on the other side the players showed the good mentality that they wanted to win the game,” Broos said. 

New players who were given a run against the Os Mambas of Mozambique included Kaizer Chiefs’ under-19 player Tumelo Shai, Tlotliso Phatsisi from Black Leopards and Thato Sefoli from Upington City, all from South Africa.      

Sefoli started against the Os Mambas, while both Shai and Phatsisi came on as the substitutes.

Likuena’s squad for the two friendly matches was as follows:

Goalkeepers:  Sekhoane Moerane and Monaheng Ramalefane.

Defenders: Rasethuntsa, Rethabile Mokokoane, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Bokang Sello, Thabo Mats’oele, Mohai Mohai, Fusi Matlabe, Rethabile Senkoto, and Mohlomi Makhetha.

Midfielders: Thabo Lesaoana, Tswarelo Bereng, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Lisema Lebokollane, Ts’epo Toloane, Ts’epang Sefali, Neo Mokhachane, Teboho Letsema, Mosoeu Mosoeu, Tumelo Khutlang, Tumelo Shai, and Tlotliso Phatsisi.

Forwards: Thabiso Brown, Jane Thabants’o, Motebang Sera, and Katleho Makateng.

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