Interim national team coach, Moses Maliehe, yesterday announced a new-look squad to face the Seychelles in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers scheduled for 25 and 29 March.
Lioli’s Basia Makepe, Jerry Kamela and Tšoanelo Koetle alongside Bantu’s Hlompho Kalake and the Matlama duo of Jane Thabantšo and Kefuoe Mahula are the only surviving members of the team that last played a competitive match for the national side under former coach, Seephephe Matete, who was sacked in October last year.
Lesotho have already lost their two opening qualifiers away to Ethiopia and at home to group-leaders, Algeria.
However, Maliehe says he has not given up on qualifying for the tournament and believes his side could still make it as one of the best runners-up, provided they do well in their remaining games.
Explaining his selection, Maliehe said he had mostly picked players he worked with when he was national under-20 team coach because of “continuity”.
“These boys deserve a chance to continue where they have left off in the junior national team. Most of them have already played at senior team level and I’m giving them a chance to show what they can do playing at the highest level on a regular basis,” Maliehe said.
“What is important is for them to exhibit the same hunger that they have shown at club level because we have to do well in the upcoming two matches to have a realistic chance of qualifying for the tournament.”
The Likuena mentor also said he made late changes to the squad due to injuries, with Nkesi Rankhasa of Matlama replacing Mkhwanazi Motlomelo of Sundawana while Tumelo Khutlang took the place of Thabo Seakhoa of LCS.
Maliehe has also recalled America-based Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho. The 24-year-old last played for the national team at the regional Cosafa tournament held in South Africa in July last year.
“We have been working with this group since December last year. We held a weeklong training camp to assess them so we are satisfied with the selection,” said Maliehe.
“The ball is in their court to show the country what they can do because some of them have always been knocking on the door, but not succeeding to make the final cut.
“Unfortunately for Seakhoa and Motlomelo, they were left out because of injuries.”
According to Maliehe, the players go into full camp on Monday next week.
“We will start full camp on Monday with Tšotleho the last player to arrive due to the fact that he plays in the US and his team has agreed to release him at a later stage of our camp,” he said.
Lioli dominate the squad with eight players while Matlama and Bantu have three and two respectively.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Jousse (LCS), Liteboho Mokhehle (Lioli)
Defenders: Kopano Tseka, Basia Makepe, Bokang Sello, Mafa Moremoholo (all Lioli), Nkesi Rankhasa (Matlama), Spiriting Malefane (Bantu).
Midfielders: Jerry Kamela, Tšoanelo Koetle (both Lioli), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Kefuoe Mahula, Jane Thabantšo (both Matlama)
Strikers: Motlalepula Chabeli, Thabiso Brown (both Kick4Life), Lehlomela Ramabele (Likhopo), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli)