Senong seeks to douse Flames

Senong seeks to douse Flames

MASERU – Likuena head coach Thabo Senong says he will use his strongest starting line-up against Malawi on Sunday when the teams meet in an international friendly match at Setsoto Stadium.
Initially it was announced that Likuena would play two games against Malawi but on Tuesday Senong confirmed only one game will take place between the sides.

It is an important encounter for Lesotho.
The game is a dress rehearsal for a second leg showdown against Zimbabwe in two weeks in the sides’ 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifying decider where Likuena trail 3-1.
Senong said his preferred starting line-up will play together for at least an hour before he makes substitutions on Sunday.
He said the players that do not get enough minutes will be involved in practice matches against local teams during the course of next week while Likuena prepare for the second leg against Zimbabwe which will decide which nation qualifies for the 2020 CHAN finals in Cameroon.

Despite Likuena having a mountain to climb to overturn a 3-1 deficit, Senong is not giving up.
He said the tie is not over yet and insisted Likuena have another 90 minutes to turn the tables on the Warriors.
He said it is important to boost the players’ confidence going into the game.

“(Playing Malawi) is going to be a very good game for us,” Senong said.
“Being a FIFA date Malawi will bring their best possible squad of international players from various clubs, and we made a massive sacrifice on our side. We had to excuse our international players because it will help us preparing for the CHAN second leg against Zimbabwe in two weeks’ time and help us get needed rhythm, so it is a good test. It will give us the needed challenge to compete against Zimbabwe,” he said.
“Honestly, we are going to try and reproduce what is going to happen against Zimbabwe,” Senong said.

“It’s a rehearsal; we are going to make sure that the starting line-up plays more than an hour. We will be in camp so we will make sure that the players that didn’t get the match minutes will play against a local based side.
“It is not going to be a game where everybody is going to be given a chance because that disturbs the tactical rhythm. We are playing against a quality side. I mean, the Mhangos (Gabadinho Mhango) are here, Phiris (Gerald Phiri) are coming, so by bringing that quality it will help us to control that kind of challenge, that’s how we are going to approach the game,” he said.
Senong said that after Likuena’s defensive fragilities in the first leg against Zimbabwe, they will be looking to test different defensive partnerships which is why he has reinforced that department.
The defensive side is not the only area where there are likely to be changes, Senong highlighted the importance of finishing the chances they create and said Likuena still need to play better in the final third.

Tšepo Seturumane has been Likuena’s main striker for the CHAN qualifiers; however, he has not been starting games this season for his club Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) and has been coming on as a substitute.
Senong said it is a double-edged sword for him because he wants Seturumane to get minutes at his club and gain confidence but also said it might help the striker to give him time to nurse himself and not aggravate the ankle injury he struggled with in the offseason.

Senong also revealed Likuena’s coaching staff is doing extra training with forwards Mokone Marabe and Tšeliso Botsane because their position is very demanding and it is important to prepare them mentally and technically to make sure they have the right confidence.
“If you are looking to win a game obviously there has to be changes especially with the fact that we have already seen Zimbabwe, we know their strengths and weaknesses and we need to make sure that we score goals but at the same time we don’t concede,” Senong said.

“Of course, it is a tough task hence we had to adjust some playing personnel in our recruitment and we also had to adjust our system in our training preparations to make sure that we protect ourselves and we give ourselves needed strength to achieve what we want to achieve because I still believe that we can do well. I still believe that we can win the game (against Zimbabwe). The away goal has given me some hope and the players, of course.”

Tlalane Phahla


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