FEAR has gripped Maseru ahead of the crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFC ON) group L qualifiers match between Lesotho’s Likuena and Tanzania’s Taifa Stars.
The penultimate encounter is scheduled to be staged on November 18th this year at Setsoto Stadium in capital Maseru. Reports from one of Lesotho’s newspapers, ‘The Post’ had it that the team’s performance in various tournaments has been poor to the extent that pressure has now piled on Likuena’s Coach Moses Maliehe.
Maliehe has been under intense pressure and needs to see his side show an improved performance after the two defeats to Uganda Cranes. They suffered a 3-0 loss to the Cranes in the first leg match in Kampala and succumbed to a 2-0 defeat in Maseru in the return leg.
In light of the disappointment around Likuena, Maliehe held a clear-the-air press conference where he touched on the side’s performances in AFCON qualifiers and the on-going challenges as well addressed comments on social media, which criticised him for selecting players that have no clubs.
“In the COSAFA Cup, we were taking some players and leaving others and we should remember that the league had not started then. The premier league did us a favour by saying the league will not start until Likuena has played giving us an opportunity to be together,” he said.
“I called players from their teams; I didn’t call a player who was at home. Mohau was not at home, he came to the national team because of his performances from his team Kick4Life. I heard things like ‘where do I get Mohau when he is not playing?’
We are no longer travelling with 17 players plus two goalkeepers, we are now travelling with three goalkeepers which make it 19 players,” he said.
“We are playing Tanzania on November18th at home and one could ask them if I am going to play the same team we played against Uganda in two games because some players were really not good.
“We have good players, we have quality players that play for Likuena, we know that in football on a day if you are not good it is not easy to win games.
Our players and us as the technical team, we realised and saw our mistakes.
“My selection is not going to be different from the past selection because our league has just started and these players we have been with them since COSAFA.
The fitness level is not the same but we are going to do as much as possible to make sure there are players coming in but they won’t be half of the team because that will be taking a step back,” he said.
The November 18th match is vital for Taifa Stars under the tutelage of the Nigerian football legend, Emmanuel Amunike, need nothing but a win so as to move closer to qualifying into the 2019 Cameroon AFCON finals.
It is also vital for hosts Lesotho to win and revive their hope to qualify into the finals. Taifa Stars occupy second slot in the group with five points from four matches, five points behind group leaders Uganda.
Cape Verde are third on four points, while Likuena are placed bottom with only two points. All teams have two matches to go.
Meanwhile, Taifa Stars have stepped up their preparations in Bloemfontein, South Africa where the team has pitched a ten-day camp to prepare for the match.
According to the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Media and Communication Officer, Clifford Ndimbo, Stars had two training sessions yesterday – in the morning and evening.
Ndimbo said that the federation is currently organising two buses which will ferry Stars supporters to Maseru to cheer the team. He said each supporter will be required to pay 150,000/- for return ticket.