As Afcon hosts draw short straw in Dobsonville
MASERU – Lesotho senior national team Likuena held Cote d’Ivoire to a goalless draw in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) group stage qualifiers at the Dobsonville Stadium in South Africa yesterday. Likuena successfully managed to close down the offensive Cote d’Ivoirian team which dominated ball possession throughout the match in search of possible goals in their favour.
Of course, the game plan by the Lesotho team’s coach, Veselin Jelusic, was obvious from the start with nine defensive players in the starting line-up. Motebang Sera was the only attacking minded player as an outright striker in the Likuena line-up, and he was substituted in the second half to make a way for another striker, Nkoto Masoabi.
Jelusic showed signs of taking on the Elephants later in the game when he brought in Tšepo Toloane and Katleho Makateng for Thabo Mafatle and Lesia Thetsane, respectively. Likuena’s performance to secure a draw against the hosts of the 2023 TotalEnergies Afon was an unexpected feat after the Lesotho team lost 2-0 away to an average Comoros side on June 3. The same Comoros team who beat Likuena went down 2-1 to Zambia on June 7, after the latter were also beaten 3-1 by Cote d’Ivoire on June 3.
Likuena remain at the bottom of Group H of the Afcon qualifiers even after the Cote d’Ivoire draw, having only collected a single point from two matches. Cote d’Ivoire, despite having already qualified for the upcoming Afcon tournament by virtue of being the hosts, are currently topping Group H after collecting four points from the same number of matches as Likuena, while Zambia and Comoros are sitting on second and third position, respectively, after both collected three points in their first two matches.
Likuena made it to the group stage qualifiers after knocking out Seychelles out of competition in the preliminary round. Likuena have never qualified for the Afcon tournament before.