Likuena’s new kid on the block
Katleho Makateng announced his arrival at the international stage in style scoring a brace in only his second competitive match playing for his country as Likuena clinched a 3-1 victory over Seychellesin March to book as spot in the group stage of the TotalEnergies 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Born and breed in Pitseng in the Leribe district, the 23-year-old striker admitted that the national team call up came a bit earlier than expected and he had goosebumps reporting for camp for the first time prior to the back-to-back matches against the Islanders.
“It was an honour for me to receive the national team call-up. I’m must confess, I had goosebumps on the first day, but the presence of my teammates from LDF made the situation a bit better,” Makateng revealed.
Speaking after winning his first cap in the first leg match against Seychelles played at the Cote D’OR Stadium in Mauritius, the LDF striker stated that it came as a huge surprise to be named in the starting line-up ahead of experienced campaigners such as Motebang Sera and others for such an important match.
“Looking at all the big names in the squad especially those that play in my position, it was a big surprise for me when the coach read out the starting line-up and I was starting ahead of them,” the speedy forward recalls.
“But it was a dream come true to represent my country at that level. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life and scoring in my second game was the cherry on the cake.”
The speedy LDF striker, has had a dream start to his first season playing premier league football, beating veteran LCS forward, Makara Ntaitsane in the race for the golden boot.
Makateng finished the 2021/2021 season at the top of the goal scoring charts with 20 goals while Ntaitsane had to settle for second spot with 18 goals.
“I’m still a student as far as playing in the Premier League is concerned but based on how things have turned out for me, I think there is that opportunity to win the top goal-scorer award provided I continue to get the goals.
“I have been getting a lot of encouragement and motivation from my coaches and teammates alike to maintain the goal-scoring form. It’s a good challenge for me and I have been working very hard at training to continue doing well.
“From my time playing in the A Division, it was always my dream to one day play in the Premier League though I feel like everything has happened quicker than I expected,” the marksman said
Makateng now has his eyes on establishing himself as a regular in the Veselin Jelusic’s team and wining more caps for his country.
“Its my first season playing in the Premier League and the focus when I started was to establish myself at LDF before I could think of the national team. Of course, it was my dream to play for Likuena national team because I started with the junior teams, but everything has happened so quickly, but that experience and exposure is helping me become a better player,” he noted
“I think it’s the beginning of good things to come for my career and now the challenge is to work hard and maintain those standards to keep my place in the national team set-up.”
After an impressive start to international football, where he scored a brace against Seychelles in just his second cap for Likuena, the 23-year-old forward is adamant that more impressive performances for Likuena could be the door to greener pastures outside the country.
“My dream growing up has always been play at the big stage. With the start I have had, I believe gradually I will grow into a player I want to be and fulfil that dreaming of playing in big leagues abroad,” the forward stated.
“Of course, my focus now is on LDF and Likuena. I want to help the team win trophies; I want to win the league with the club. I want to help my country do well and qualifying for big competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations. There is also the COSAFA, which I think we should work toward getting to the final and winning the competition,” he said.