Likuena in must-win tie

Likuena in must-win tie

MASERU – Lesotho takes on Group L leaders Uganda on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Kampala in a crucial 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.
This is a critical game for Likuena as they need to win to stand any chance of qualifying for next year’s finals in Cameroon.
With two points from two games so far, a victory would take Likuena to the top of the group. Lesotho’s preparations for the game have not gone well, however.
Yesterday, Likuena played South African ABSA Premiership outfit Free State Stars in a friendly match in Bethlehem and were humiliated 9-0.

Uganda unlike Lesotho has qualified for the AFCON before and has a number of players with experience of the South African league.
At the head of the list are goalkeeper Dennis Onyango, who is the number one shot-stopper for South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, and Godfrey Walusimbi, a left footed fullback who plays for Kaizer Chiefs.

After playing to a disappointing 1-1 draw with Cape Verde last month, Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe insisted this is the game Likuena have to win to boost his side’s chances of qualifying.
However, it will not be easy away from home.

Likuena’s main struggle has been scoring goals and Maliehe has recalled Thapelo Tale of Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) to help Motebang Sera and Masoabi Nkoto.
There are not many other changes to the squad Maliehe called for last month’s Cape Verde game.
Tale is the only addition while Luciano Matsoso retains his place in the team despite not playing a single minute for his club Black Leopards this season.
The on-form Bantu pair of Lehlohonolo Fothoane and Litšepe Marabe misses out.

Nonetheless, Lesotho has many attacking options and very talented players in wide areas.
Winger Tumelo Khutlang has established himself as one of Black Leopards’ trusted starters in South Africa’s top-flight this season and his ability to get behind defenders and create spaces to be exploited can benefit Likuena.

Sera and Tale are proven goalscorers while Tshwarelo Bereng was very solid in midfield against Cape Verde and allowed Tšepo Toloane to go forward and create chances.
Likuena do not have a good record playing away from home but if they can take their chances on Saturday, as Maliehe always emphasises, nothing is impossible.
In the other Group L game, Cape Verde meets Tanzania on Friday and a victory for either team would push Lesotho down the log if Maliehe’s side do not get a positive result in Uganda.
After Saturday’s game, Likuena will be left with two home games, against Tanzania and Uganda, and an away match against Cape Verde.

Next year’s continental AFCON showpiece will be held in Cameroon in June where the hosts will be defending the title they won against Egypt in 2017 in Gabon.

Likuena squad:

Sam Khetsekile (LCS), Likano Mphuthi (LDF), Mohau Kuenane, Kopano Tseka, Mafa Moremoholo (both Lioli), Nkau Lerotholi, Basia Makepe (both LMPS), Tšepo Toloane (LDF), Tshwarelo Bereng, Luciano Matsoso, Tumelo Khutlang (all Black Leopards), Masoabi Nkoto (Real Kings), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Mabuti Potloane, Motebang Sera, Jane Thaba-Ntšo (all Matlama), Setho Moshoeshoe, Thapelo Tale (both LCS), Tšotleho Jane.

Luciah Phahla

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