Likuena captain Makepe retires from international football
Likuena captain Basia Makepe has announced his retirement from international football after leading the senior national team to silver at the recent COSAFA Cup tournament held in Durban, South Africa.
It was for the first time since 2000 that Likuena reached the final of the regional tournament, where they lost 1-0 to Zambia.
The Leribe born defender will go down as one of the decorated defenders in the country having represented his country 87 times and winning several accolades in the process.
Makepe leadership skills were spotted from a young age, where he was appointed captain of the national U-20 team, Makoanyane XI by Leslie Notṧi.
He led by example as Makoanyane XI qualified for the CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in 2011, which in those days were knowns as African Youth Championship, where the Leslie Notsi’s side eliminated countries like Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya to qualify for the tournament.
Makepe won his first Likuena cap in a 2-1 victory over Eswatini during an international friendly match played at Setsoto Stadium in October 2012 and went on to make the squad for the 2013 COSAFA Cup in Zambia.
However, Makepe was an unused substitute at the tournament in Zambia as Notṧi went for the tried and tested defenders such as Moitheri Ntobo, Tlali Maile and Thabo Masualle as Likuena reached the semi-finals.
He would later be appointed the Likuena captain as coach Moses Maliehe went for a younger generation at the 2016 COSAFA Cup in Namibia, where Likuena won all their group stage matches but were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Shakes Mashaba coached Bafana Bafana.
Makepe has not only enjoyed success with the national team, but won several domestic trophies at Lioli, where he was also handed the captaincy after joining from boyhood club and now defunct Joy FC.
After leaving Lioli, he joined the police outfit, LMPS FC, where he is employed as a police officer and believes he still has a few years left in his tank playing for Simunye, as the police outfit is affectionately known.
“I think one has had a career that you can say was decent and can be accepted as satisfying to the football fraternity,” Makepe said.
“For me, I can say it was a good career that has had challenges here and there as well as successes here and there, which started way back with the U-20 team.
“With Makoanyane XI, we became the second team to qualify for the Africa Youth Championship and fortunately I had an honour of being the captain of that team.”
The 32-year-old, who has come up against the best forwards in the continent from the young Mohamed Salah during the 2011 Under-20 Africa Youth Championship to the likes of Victor Osimhen, Riyad Mahrez, has singled out former Burkina Faso striker Jonathan Pitroipa as the most troublesome opponent he has faced.
“I have come up against the best from this continent from the likes of Salah and others, but I think Pitrooipa of Burkina Faso was the most troublesome forward I have come up against,” he stated.
“I think the successes with the senior team especially as the captain are many having reached the COSAFA semi-finals a number of times with Likuena and twice going unbeaten in the group stage in Zambia 2013 and Namibia 2016 respectively.
“Being the captain of the team was on cherry on top and getting bronze medal in 2018. I end my chapter with Likuena having played a role in helping the team get to the final for the first time in 23-years,” he said.
Makepe admitted that the 2016 edition of the COSAFA tournament was very special for him as it was the first as the captain and they won all their group stage matches.
“The COSAFA tournament in Namibia in 2016 stands out for me especially that game against South Africa, which unfortunately we lost on penalties, but it was a good tournament overall,” added the defender.
“All in all, I think it was a very satisfying career with the national teams though you always want more as a player. I’m happy to bow out having helped Likuena re-write the history books. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my love.
“I’m very grateful for all that have supported me throughout my career, my teammates, coaches, administrators and the supporters, who were always by our side and of course the Lesotho Football Association for giving me the opportunities to lead the national team,” he said.