America-based attacking midfielder, Jane ‘Sunny’ Tšotleho, is expected to arrive in Lesotho today to join the national team preparing for the 2015 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament to be held in South Africa from 17-30 May.
However, Tšotleho—who plays for Wilmington Hammerheads in North Caroline—is unlikely to fe14ature in today’s international friendly match against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, but could play Saturday’s tie against the same opponents.
Hammerheads is a professional soccer team based in Wilmington and was founded in 1996. The team plays in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League—the third tier of America’s soccer pyramid.
According to Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) general secretary, Mokhosi Mohapi, the 23-year-old powerful forward would only arrive today because his team was not willing to release him for the Cosafa tournament. The regional tournament is not part of the Fifa calendar hence teams are not obliged to release players for the event.
“We are expecting Jane later this week as he is among 20 players Lefa registered for the Cosafa competition,” Mohapi said on Monday.
“He is one of the key players for his American team and his coaches wanted him to play two important games before he left for Lesotho.”
Mokhosi said having the player for the regional Cosafa competition would help him gel with his teammates ahead of the more serious 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and 2015 African Nations Championship qualifiers, which get underway next month.
In the Cosafa tournament, Lesotho are in Group B alongside Tanzania, Madagascar and Swaziland, with the overall winner advancing to the quarterfinal of the regional championship most nations use as grooming ground for bigger tournaments such as Afcon and the World Cup.
Speaking with the Lesotho Times from his base in the United States (US), Tšotleho said he was looking forward to representing his country once again following his Likuena debut in the 2-0 Afcon home win against Liberia last year.
“It was a bit difficult for the team to release me this time around, but they did in the end, but I have to play Wednesday’s match (yesterday) against Louisville City,” Tšotleho said.
“I have always wanted to play in the Cosafa competition and I’m over the moon that my wish will finally come true.
“I have been playing well since coming back from injury about a month ago. My goal now is to take that form to the national team and do well for my country.”
Tšotleho further said he believed competitions such as the Cosafa championship and Afcon help players get recognition by international scouts.
“My vision is to play in better leagues anywhere in Europe and I believe that being a regular in the national team would go a long way in helping me fulfil that dream. The more one plays for the national team, the better chance he has of being noticed by international scouts, which is why I am happy to be part of Likuena’s upcoming campaigns,” said Tšotleho.
Tšotleho left the country for the US as a 13-year-old after former Likuena goalkeeper, Thabane Sutu, recommended him to American soccer academies.