Explosive tie for Likuena

Explosive tie for Likuena
Explosive tie for Likuena

Africa-Press – Lesotho. The senior national team Likuena will take on Zambia in a crucial (2023) Africa Cup of Nations qualifier today at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola.

Likuena host Zambia in the return match on Sunday in South Africa and, to stand any chance of making it to next year’s finals, Lesotho must come out with at least four points from the back-to-back fixtures.

Likuena are bottom with one point from two games in Group H which also includes Comoros and next year’s hosts Ivory Coast. Because Ivory Coast are hosting, they are already guaranteed a spot at the AFCON meaning only one other spot is available between Lesotho, Comoros and Zambia.

Likuena began their campaign with a defeat to Comoros and a draw against Ivory Coast in the opening round of qualifiers last June. They faced Eswatini last Thursday in a preparatory game and Lesotho head coach Veselin Jelusic preached that there should be realism when it comes to Likuena’s chances in the qualifiers given the calibre of opponents.

Jelusic has a point. Zambia’s head coach Avram Grant has named a strong 27-man squad to face Lesotho and it comprises of several European based players including ace striker Patson Daka of Leicester City in England.

Daka, who will no doubt play a leading role in Chipolopolo’s attack, has scored four goals in 20 appearances for the English club. He also scored Zambia’s only goal in a 3-1 defeat to Ivory Coast last June.

Another player Likuena will have to be wary of is midfielder Kings Kangwa who plays for Serbian champions Crvena Zvezda. He came on as a second half substitute against Comoros and helped his side clinch a 2-1 victory last June to put Chipolopolo second in Group H and in a pole position to qualify as things stand.

Although Likuena are bottom of Group H, they still have a chance to book a ticket at the continental showpiece in Ivory Coast to be played next January and February.

However, Lesotho’s chances heavily depend on them winning their games and hoping results go their way in other group games. Likuena can draw inspiration from their goalless draw with Ivory Coast at the Dobsonville Stadium last year as they attempt to get a result against Zambia away.

The two countries have met in the past in FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the COSAFA Cup with Likuena winning the sides’ last meeting. Past results between Lesotho and Zambia

COSAFA Cup July, 2021 Zambia 1-2 Lesotho FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CAF March, 2013 Zambia 4-0 Lesotho FIFA World Cup Qualifying – CAF June, 2013 Lesotho 1-1 Zambia

Likuena have a decent record when they play at the Dobsonville Stadium, but worryingly, have never won an AFCON qualifier away from home. Likuena left the country on Monday to Johannesburg where they were due to rest a night before flying to Ndola on Tuesday morning.

The Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) said the team will fly out of Zambia tomorrow to Johannesburg for their home game on Sunday. The tickets for the game are already on sale.

Motebang Sera, who is one of Jelusic’s key players, only played 10 minutes in last week’s friendly match against Eswatini. Jelusic said Likuena technical team were easing him into competitive football as he is still recovering from an injury that side-lined him for three weeks.

A fit and firing Sera is what Likuena need in Ndola if they are to return with anything. One player that was missing from the squad last week was Katleho Makateng who plays for Richards Bay in South Africa’s top-flight.

He came on for the last 15 minutes on Sunday against TS Galaxy and joined his Likuena teammates in Johannesburg. If the friendly game against Eswatini is anything to go by, Tšoarelo Bereng will play an important role in the midfield against Zambia.

Lesotho will likely have less possession on and will try to catch the hosts on counter. Bereng’s eye for a long pass to release the attackers will be key for Likuena.

Likuena squad: Goalkeepers Sekhoane Moerane, Seahlolo Mosoeu, Tankiso Chaba Defenders Basia Makepe, Kopano Tseka, Rethabile Rasethuntša, Rethabile Mokokoane, Rethabile Senkoto, Tšiame Ramabele, Lenka Ngaka, Mohlomi Makhetha

Midfielders Lisema Lebokollane, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, Tshoarelo Bereng, Tšepang Sefali, Tšepo Toloane, Thabo Mafatle, Neo Mokhachane, Thabang Malane

Forwards Katleho Makateng, Lemohang Lintša, Motebang Sera, Jane Thabantšo, Retšelisitsoe Mopeli Zambia squad: Goalkeeepers Toaster Nsabata, Lawrence Mulenga, Allan Chibwe

Defenders Frankie Musonda, Dominic Chanda, Tandi Mwape, Roderick Kabwe, Aaron Katebe, Benedict Chepeshi, Aime Mabika, Teddy Khumalo, Benson Sakala Midfielders

Kings Kangwa, Kelvin Kapumbu, Lubambo Musonda, Rally Bwalya, Emmanuel Banda, Clatous Chota Chama, Kelvin Kampamba, Patson Kwataine Strikers Lameck Banda, Patson Daka, Lazarous Kambole, Fashion Sakala, Esward Chilufya, Kennedy Musonda, Joseph Phiri

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