|Basia Makepe (left) returns to the Likuena squad after two years...|
Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe has named an experienced squad for the upcoming 2018 COSAFA Cup to be held in South Africa’s Limpopo province from May 27 to June 9.
Maliehe’s 22-man squad includes Polish based Luciano Matsoso and Tshwarelo Bereng who was previously on the books of Chippa United in the South African Premier Soccer League (PSL).
The two players will be playing at the regional tournament for the first time. Bereng earned his first cap for Lesotho in an international friendly against Namibia in March.
Maliehe has also recalled experienced centrebacks Nkau Lerotholi and Basia Makepe. The LMPS pair returns to the national team for the first time in two years after a self-imposed exile from international football.
The duo will bring valuable experience. Lerotholi captained Likuena at the 2015 edition of the COSAFA Cup and was a member of the Leslie Notši led side that reached the semi-finals in 2013 in Zambia.
Makepe, on the other hand, captained Lesotho at the 2016 tournament in Namibia where Maliehe made his debut as Lesotho coach on a caretaker basis and took the team to the quarterfinals.
Maliehe, however, will not be able to call on the services of Cambodian based attacker Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho, after his club Phnom Penh Crown refused to release him for the regional showpiece.
“We have all the players that we had planned to have in the team apart from Tšotleho which is obviously a disappointment for us,” Maliehe said.
“His team was not willing to release him for the competition as it does not fall under the FIFA dates and we have made peace with that.”
Maliehe said he is looking to have continuity with his squad with the COSAFA Cup giving Likuena a chance to prepare for their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Cape Verde in September.
Maliehe added: “We will not be able to have friendly matches between the time we finish with the tournament and September as most of the players would be having their pre-season with their clubs.
|Nkau Lerotholi (left) also returns...|
“But we will go to the tournament and fight with what we have because the intention is to at least get to the final based on how well we have done in the previous two competitions.
“There are a number of players that will be playing at the tournament for the first time and it’s a chance for them to show what they can do going forward after a good season at club level,” he said.
There are younger faces in the squad with the in-form likes of Lebajoa Mosehlenyane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane and Monaheng Ramalefane included.
Mosehlenyane has been rewarded for excellent form for since joining Matlama from Bantu in January. The young forward was named player of the tournament after inspiring Tse Putsoa to the LNIG Top 8 title in April and has been a revelation all year. He is joined by Matlama teammate Ramalefane who was named goalkeeper of the tournament at the COSAFA Under-20 Championships in December after his performances helped Lesotho reach the final.
There are a few surprises in Maliehe’s squad with the main one being the exclusion of Bantu captain Thapelo Mokhehle. There is also no space for Lioli’s Tšoanelo Koetle or former captain Bokang Mothoana of Kick4Life.
Likuena will kick-off their COSAFA Cup campaign with a quarterfinal tie against Swaziland on June 3 at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.
Goalkeepers: Likano Mphuthi (LDF), Sam Ketsekile (LCS), Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama)
Defenders: Nkau Lerotholi (LMPS), Basia Makepe (LMPS), Bokang Sello (Lioli), Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Kopano Tseka (Lioli)
Midfielders: Tshwarelo Bereng (free agent), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Kefuoe Mahula (Matlama), Mosiuoa Boseka (LCS), Lebajoa Mosehlenyane (Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Litšepe Marabe (Bantu), Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama), Luciano Matsoso (Oskar Przysucha, Poland), Lehlohonolo Fothoane (Bantu), Tšepo Toloane (LDF)