Likuena crash out of Cosafa

Likuena crash out of Cosafa

Maseru– The Lesotho national team missed out on a place in the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup final after an agonising 4-3 loss to Zimbabwe last night in the North West in South Africa.
Likuena put up a valiant display but Zimbabwe booked their place in the final against Zambia while Lesotho will take on Tanzania tomorrow in the third and fourth place playoff.
Thanks to their blistering performance last year at the same tournament in Namibia, Lesotho started this year’s campaign in the quarterfinals and knocked out Namibia after a penalty shootout last Saturday.

Bouyed by that win, Likuena started last night’s semi-final brightly and saw much of the ball in the first 15 minutes of the game.
However, Lesotho could not capitalise on its ball possession until the 12th minute when Tumelo Khutlang tested Zimbabwe’s goalkeeper who was forced into a great save.
Zimbabwe, who are the favourites to lift the cup this year, nearly broke the deadlock in the 16th minute through the tournament’s top goalscorer Ovidy Karuru but his effort went over the bar.
Karuru’s effort, however, was a warning shot and three minutes later Knox Mutizwa fired the Warriors into the lead.
Likuena did not drop their heads, though, and they continued to fight to find an equaliser.

Head coach Moses Maliehe reacted quickly to Zimbabwe’s goal by making his first substitution in the first half with Thapelo Tale coming off and Motebang Sera replacing him in attack.
Sera immediately announced his arrival with a great goal after Zimbabwe’s defence failed to clear the ball properly to send the game into halftime level at 1-1.
The second half started with Zimbabwe piling more pressure on Lesotho. Lesotho’s back-line was caught napping and was punished as Mutizwa registered his second goal of the night.
A communication breakdown between Likano Mphuthi at the back allowed the Warriors to double their lead soon after and make it 3-1.

Finding themselves two goals down, Likuena mounted a desperate bid to get back in the game and their efforts finally paid off when Mabuti Potloane, who came on for Hlompho Kalake, found the back of the net.

However, Lesotho’s joy was short-lived as Mutizwa completed his hattrick to give Zimbabwe a decisive 4-2 lead.
And, although Tšoanelo Koetle found the net from the penalty spot in the referee’s optional time, it was not enough to send Lesotho through to its final since 2000.

Likuena line-up: Mphuthi, Moremoholo, Sello, Mokhehle, Tseka, Mahula, Kalake (Potloane), Tale (Sera), Thaba-Ntšo, Khutlang.

Luciah Phahla

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