Maliehe: “We can win it!”

Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe is looking to build on his team’s fine showing at the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup in Namibia when he leads the team again at this year’s tournament in South Africa from June 25-July 9.

Lesotho stormed through the group stage 12 months ago and were unlucky losers on penalties to eventual champions South Africa in the quarterfinals following a 1-1 draw.

Maliehe now believes his side can go all the way as they enter directly into the quarterfinals this year, where they will meet 2015 champions Namibia.

“I am really looking forward to the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup after how well we did last year and knowing that with another 12 months’ experience under our belt, we can do even better,” Maliehe says.

“The preparations have gone well, we played two matches in Swaziland recently. One was against their COSAFA Castle Cup squad and we lost 1-0, but then we played the team they said they would use for the African Nations Cup qualifiers and we won 1-0.

“We also have a game against Mauritania in Pretoria on Sunday that will give us good preparation ahead of our Nations Cup qualifier in Tanzania next weekend, so it is full steam ahead.”

Maliehe reveals he has made just a few tweaks to his squad for this year’s COSAFA Castle Cup, but otherwise it is much the same as last year.

“We have about 80 percent of the same squad, but I have added some experience. I like to work with young players, but sometimes you need a little bit more than that.”

Maliehe says he will be wary of Namibia, even though that country has its own problems.

“They played very well last year, but you know they have not been playing their domestic league for the last 12 months, so they have had no regular competition. But still, they have players who are doing well in South Africa and they are a very good team. We will certainly not take them lightly.”

Like many Southern African coaches, Maliehe is juggling a triple challenge in the coming weeks – qualifiers in the Nations Cup and African Nations Championship, as well as the COSAFA Castle Cup.

“That’s why I called up 26 players, because we need to get squads ready for all three of these competitions and the teams will not necessarily be the same. So we are thinking different players for different competitions, but we are preparing for all three together.”

Finally, asked if Lesotho can put past disappointment in the final behind them and go all the way in the COSAFA Castle Cup in 2017, Maliehe is adamant.

“Definitely. Of course it won’t be easy, but we are a good team and I believe in my players, I definitely believe we can win the COSAFA Castle Cup.”