‘We can still qualify’

‘We can still qualify’

MASERU – Lesotho national coach Moses Maliehe insists Likuena can still qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) despite crushing back-to-back defeats to Uganda.
Thanks to the losses, 3-0 in Kampala last Saturday and 2-0 at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday, Likuena find themselves rooted at the bottom of Group L with just two points from four games.
However, Maliehe believes Cape Verde’s 2-0 defeat to Tanzania on Tuesday in the group’s other game still leaves qualification wide open.
Tanzania are now second in Group L with five points and are yet to play Lesotho at Setsoto Stadium. Mathematically Likuena are still in contention for a qualification spot to Cameroon next year, however, they will have to win their remaining two games and hope other results go their way.

Lesotho played to a 1-1 draw away to Tanzania last June. If Likuena beat them at home and Uganda beat Cape Verde, Lesotho will go to five points, level with Tanzania and ahead of Cape Verde.
Lesotho then concludes its qualifying campaign in Cape Verde next March and if Maliehe’s side claim three points they will have eight points and will qualify for the 2019 AFCON if Uganda beat Tanzania.

Speaking about Tuesday’s defeat to Uganda at Setsoto, Maliehe admitted goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi played with discomfort due to an injury. He added that striker Motebang Sera was still recovering from an ankle injury that kept him out of some league games for Matlama.
Maliehe said Motebang requested to be substituted and was replaced at the start of the second half by Masoabi Nkoto.

Uganda opened the scoring in the first six minutes of the game and Lesotho never recovered.
Likuena arrived in the country at midnight on Monday while Uganda arrived in Maseru a day earlier but Maliehe said his charges were not distracted and were ready to play.
“The players were not panicking, what happened here (on Tuesday) is what happened in Kampala, we conceded two early goals,” Maliehe said.

“Even in our sessions we talked about Uganda and that they will push in the first 15 minutes to get a goal. We talked about our defence on how can we defend but we conceded within 15 minutes again. You know when a team scores they will be comfortable after scoring but we came back in the second half and we tried to push forward because we wanted to get at least a goal, and perhaps after getting the first one we would get the second goal but we didn’t have that.”

Maliehe added: “In Kampala we didn’t have our left back Bokang (Sello) but today he was here. Our regular goalkeeper Likano was here but in the first half, like I said, we didn’t play well and in the second half we tried to push to get goals but it didn’t happen.”

“My players were ready to play. They did what we told them to do and I don’t know about outside factors. Our game-plan was straight forward.
“We had two strikers and we had a natural winger on the left and on the right so that we could push Uganda.
“But I knew Uganda would have two defending midfielders that’s why we had to play the second striker.”

Luciah Phahla

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