LIKUENA coach Moses Maliehe says his team will have to dig deep if they are to rewrite the history books of football in Lesotho by beating Cape Verde in their final Group L clash on Sunday.

Maliehe’s charges are second behind already qualified Uganda, but must beat the Blue Sharks to secure a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament to be staged in Egypt.

The national team has been in camp at the University of Pretoria High-Performance Centre in the last week.

They also played a practice match on Monday evening drawing 1-1 stalemate South Africa’s under-23 team.

“Preparations have gone well so far and we have been in camp with the team at the high-performance centre in Pretoria,” Maliehe said.

“We had a programme to follow and part of the camp away from home was to help the players to focus on the task ahead away from all the distractions that could affect them negatively.

“The spirit is very high in camp because each player knows what it will mean for them and the country to qualify for the competition. That is the biggest motivation”

Maliehe hailed the practice match against the South African under-23 side, that is also preparing for its Olympics qualifier against Angola when and where? He said he believes his team gained a lot from the match as it is made up of players from the country’s top-flight league and from overseas.

“This is a big match for us and we had to ensure that the players are ready for what is coming their way both mentally and physically.

“The high-performance centre helped us in different aspects of the game as the team had sessions with different experts to fine-tune our preparations for the game against Cape Verde.”

Maliehe also welcomed the return of experienced midfielder Tšoanelo Koetle saying it gives him options ahead in the match.

The Tse Nala midfielder has not played international football since the 1-1 draw away to Tanzania in Likuena’s opening match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in 2017.

Koetle spent months on the side-lines after he was accused of refusing to undergo a doping test in 2017 but was given the greenlight to return to action during the January 2019 transfer window.

“He has made a good progress since his return to action and was also available to play for the national team. We felt it would benefit us to have him in the team because of his experience at this level,” Maliehe said.

Regarding the dropped Black Leopards winger, Luciano Matsoso, Maliehe said he felt that the diminutive attacking midfielder lacked match fitness to make in into the squad.

He said: “He lacked match fitness because he has not played at Leopards and was also out for a long time with an injury but the door is still open for the next matches”.

Maliehe has also involved former Likuena coaches Seephephe Matete, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana and Leslie Notši, during the weeklong training camp in South Africa.

The trio have immense experience in international and are among the most successful coaches in the country with national teams. They also all worked as the Lesotho Football Association technical directors in different years.

Matete and Thotanyana led Lesotho’s under-20 side Makoanyane XI to the first ever African Youth Championship in 2005 while Notši led the team to the same competition in 2011.

Likuena squad to face Cape Verde

GOALKEEPERS: Sam Ketsekile (LCS), Monaheng Ramalefane (Matlama, Tankiso Chaba (Liphakoe)

DEFENDERS: Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Bokang Sello (Bantu), Lesia Thetsane (Columbia College USA ), Kopano Tseka (Lioli), Nkau Lerotholo and Basia Makepe (both) LMPS).

MIDFIELDERS: Kefuoe Mahula, Jane Thabantšo (Matlama, Sepiriti Malefane, Setho Moshoeshoe (both LCS), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Tumelo Khutlang Tshwarelo Bereng (both Black Leopards), Tšoanelo Koetle (Lioli), Rethabile Selonyane (Linare), Jane Tšotleho Louisville City (USA).

STRIKERS: Motebang Sera (Matlama), Roboama Koloti (LMPS) and Nkoto Masoabi (Real Kings).