Thabantṧo ageing like fine wine
Veteran forward Jane Thabantṧo has been playing topflight football in Lesotho for over a decade but has not showed any signs of slowing down as he continues to bag domestic and international accolades.
The Thaba Bosiu born forward holds the record of the fastest goal in the history of the COSAFA Cup having netted 34 seconds into the match when Likuena clinched a 3-0 victory over Mauritius in the 2016 edition of the tournament played in Namibia.
Thabantṧo, who has been capped 67 times for his country, is a goal behind Motebang Sera in Likuena’s all-time leading goal-scorer at the COSAFA Cup having overtaken legendary Teele Ntṧonyana when he netted a winner in 2-1 victory over Mauritius in the 2022 edition of the tournament.
Thabantṧo and Sera are tied on ten goals as Likuena all-time top goal-scorer in all competitions since making their debuts in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The diminutive forward, who has been playing topflight football since arriving at Matlama in 2010, walked away with the Midfielder of the Season in the last season’s Vodacom Premier League end of the season awards.
“I’m very honoured and happy to have won almost 70 caps for my country. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get as many caps as possible going through different coaches with the national team,” Thabantṧo said.
“It was a dream from a very young age to play for my country and I still remember vividly how excited I was when I received my first call up.”
Thabantṧo, who started his football playing for Mablingo FC at Thaba Bosiu, stated that it’s exciting that his record of the fastest goal in the COSAFA Cup scored in 2016, still stands to this day.
“I feel very proud to be honest that that record still stands to this day. It’s a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life because it’s not every player that get to hold a record of a regional tournament,” Thabantṧo explains.
“I’m very proud of the career I have had since my days playing in the dusty grounds of Thaba Bosiu. That’s where it all started before, I joined Matlama in 2010.
“Immediately after I joined to Matlama, I was selected for the Under-17 which was followed by the Under-20 and then the senior team. I have managed to retain my place since 2015 when I won my first cap and it’s something, I’m very proud of,” he said.
‘Morena oa Thaba’, as the Likuena star is affectionately known by his supporters, stated it would be a dream come true for him to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations before hanging up his boots having come close in 2019.
“We are still in the race to qualify for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations with Likuena and it would be a dream come true for all of us to qualify for the biggest tournament in our continent.
“We came close a few years back and it would be amazing to finally get to play in the biggest competition in the continent.
With his home team Machokha FC from Thaba Bosiu now playing in the premier league, Thabantṧo admitted he would love to play for the club before hanging his boots.
“I have played only for Matlama in the elite league and yes, it would be good for me to win more trophies with the club before and maybe hang up the boots at my home team, Machokha, who are now playing in the Premier League,” he concluded.