Lesotho coach Thabo Senong has named his final squad for the upcoming 2021 Total Africa Cup of Nations Qualifications back-to-back matches against Benin to be played in Cotonou and Maseru, respectively.
The double header was initially scheduled for March earlier this year but had to be postponed after football activities were suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Crocodiles”, as the Lesotho national team is known, started their qualifiers’ campaign with an away 1-1 draw to Sierra Leone in Freetown, before losing 4-2 to the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Maseru last November.
Senong remains adamant that his side can cause an upset as they battle three West African teams in the race to secure qualification for the continental showpiece.
“We just completed our fourth week of training with the local based players. I want to thank the Association for the support they have given us throughout this period,” Senong told a press conference.
“I should also thank the coaching staff, physical trainers and our medical team. We cannot forget our COVID-19 compliance officer because it is the first time working under these conditions, which are different to what we were used to. Everything we do now, we must observe the COVID-19 protocols. It has not been easy exercise, but I can safely say, we are getting much better. The team is getting strong mentally and physically. The confidence is coming back, and their level of fitness has also improved. These players had a 6-months long layoff. It was not easy for them as well,” he added.
Lesotho will be without suspended star midfielder Hlompho Kalake for the first game in Cotonou, but he will be available for the reverse fixture in Maseru.
“Initially, we started with a 31-man squad including four abroad based players. We have been working with the 27 local ones over the past four weeks and the objective was to improve their fitness and assess their capabilities,” added the Lesotho coach.
“Unfortunately, we have to cut the squad. We are travelling to Benin with 21 players for the 14th of November match. We only have one key player missing due to suspension and that is Hlompho Kalake. He will not be traveling but will rejoin us for the return’s leg here in Maseru,” he said.
Goalkeepers: Ntsane Lichaba, Sekhoane Moerane
Defenders: Basia Makepe, Nkau Lerotholi, Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Lisema Lebokollane, Bokang Sello, Thabang Malane, Thabo Matšoele
Midfielders: Tumelo Ngatane, Tšepo Toloane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Litšepe Marabe, Jane Thabantšo, Jane Tšotleho, Tumelo Khutlang, Thabo Lesooana, Thabo Seakhoa
Strikers: Motebang Sera, Tšepo Seturumane, Nkoto Masoabi