Leslie Notsi buzzing from Lesotho’s World Cup qualifier result away to Nigeria

Leslie Notsi buzzing from Lesotho’s World Cup qualifier result away to Nigeria

The Lesotho national side were written off ahead of their 2026 World Cup qualifier against favourites Nigeria in Uyo, but defied the odds by coming away with a historic point.

Likuena took the lead in the 56th minute through defender Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, but it was cancelled out 11 minutes later by Super Eagles centre-back Semi Ajayi. 

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Notsi, who previously labelled Group C “the lion’s den” – which includes Bafana Bafana, Zimbabwe, Benin, and Rwanda, now has a sense of hope. 

"Coming to Nigeria, getting a point is a massive result for us. It gives us the self-belief, the hope that, yes, of course, we can [compete]. So, there's something I normally talk to them [the players] about – 'I can', 'I am', 'I must'," explained the Likuena mentor.

"It's something they should always think about – 'I can do it', 'I must work hard', 'I must have that self-belief', so I think we are on a progression that is very positive from our point of view, as a small footballing country of two million people."

Notsi adds the approach was for Lesotho not to consider themselves minors against a continental powerhouse like Nigeria. 

"Nigeria is one of the best footballing countries on the continent, they've qualified for the World Cup, AFCON several times, and we came here knowing that it was going to be very difficult for us," he added.

"But, at the same time, we had faith in ourselves, and we gave the players the self-belief."

Having taken over from Vaseline Jelusic prior to the COSAFA Cup in July, and then asked to stay on for the World Cup qualifiers, Notsi reveals he took a different approach to his predecessor. 

"After our senior coach left, I was given the task of leading the team, and myself and the technical team decided, 'No, we need to play to our strengths,'" explained Notsi.

"In the COSAFA Cup, we played until the final and said, now we need to build up from there, and playing the likes of Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire is good for us because it's a platform [on which] the players can get exposure for them to progress and grow."

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