Quote of the week

“To be a great champion you must believe you are the best. If you're not, pretend you are.” – Muhammad Ali

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Lesotho’s AFCON 2019 hopes suffer major blow with Uganda defeat


Likuena now need a miracle to qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Cameroon...
Lesotho…(0) 0
Uganda…(2) 2

Lesotho suffered a potentially terminal 2-0 defeat to Uganda in 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying on Tuesday evening at Setsoto Stadium.

The result leaves Likuena bottom of Group L with two points and just two games to play. Lesotho’s next match is a now a must-win, at home against Tanzania on November 16. Moses Maliehe’s charges then finish their campaign away to Cape Verde next March.

Uganda, on the other hand, is smiling after claiming two victories over Lesotho in four days. On Saturday, the Cranes outclassed Likuena 3-0 at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Namboole.

They were once again too good for Likuena at Setsoto as they pretty much cruised to a 2-0 win.

The victory puts Uganda in control of Group L. They are top with 10 points from four games and need just one more point to qualify for next June’s finals in Cameroon.

Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe made two changes to his starting line-up from the team that lost to Uganda on Saturday in an effort to get a positive response from Likuena.

In came goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi, back from injury, to replace Mohau Kuenane while first choice leftback Bokang Sello returned from suspension.

However, needing a draw at worst to keep up in the group, Likuena got off to the worst possible start when Uganda striker Farouk Miya scored after just six minutes.

The goal came from a turnover in the middle of the field – which was to be a recurring problem for Lesotho in the first half – when Tshwarelo Bereng lost the ball.

The ball eventually found its way to Miya who unleashed a thunderbolt from outside the box which beat goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi hands down. Mphuthi perhaps could have done better, but the goal was eerily similar to Emmanuel Okwi’s opener on Saturday as a Uganda attacker was given time to look up and take aim at goal with little pressure on the ball.

Such was Uganda’s superiority in the opening half it took until the 25th minute for Lesotho to get its first shot on target when Bokang Sello’s freekick was well palmed away by Uganda captain Dennis Onyango.

Likuena were not coping physically with the visitors’ pace and strength at all.

Both those factors were involved in Uganda’s second goal as Okwi beat Mara Moremoholo for pace down the Cranes’ left flank only to be fouled by the trailing Likuena captain.

From the resultant freekick Miya’s power was once again too much for Mphuthi to deal with in Lesotho’s goals. From a tight angle, Miya somehow managed to beat Mphuthi at his near post with the keeper’s touch onto the underside of the crossbar not enough to prevent a morale-sapping second goal for the Cranes.

Likuena were much improved in the second half with Nkoto Masoabi’s entrance at halftime for Motebang Sera giving Lesotho a much better focal point in attack. Masoabi was involved in Lesotho’s most prosing moment when he was brought down in the box by Murushid Juuko in the 60th minute only for Likuena’s penalty appeals to be turned away.

The 66th minute entrances of Jane Tšotleho and Setho Moshoeshoe (for Hlompho Kalake and Tšepo Toloane) further improved Likuena’s play and there were periods of confident possession and even skill from the hosts.

However, Lesotho couldn’t muster enough pressure to bother Onyango in Uganda’s goals and, in the end, comfortably saw out the win – their first in Lesotho (after a 0-0 draw in 2007).

It is now back to the drawing board for Likuena after a disappointing four days. As things stand, Lesotho’s best chance of qualifying for the AFCON appears to have slipped through its fingers.

Group L standings:


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Uganda
4
3
1
0
6
0
6
10
2
Tanzania
4
1
2
1
3
4
-1
5
3
Cape Verde
4
1
1
2
4
4
0
4
4
Lesotho
4
0
2
2
2
7
-5
2

Lesotho’s AFCON 2019 qualifiers:
11 June 2017
09 September 2018
13 October 2018
16 October 2018
16 November 2018
22 March 2019
Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho
Lesotho 1-1 Cape Verde
Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Lesotho 0-2 Uganda
Lesotho v Tanzania
Cape Verde v Lesotho

Likuena starting XI v Uganda:
Likano Mphuthi - Mafa Moremoholo ©, Bokang Sello, Basia Makepe, Nkau Lerotholi - Tšepo Toloane (Moshoeshoe 66’), Hlompho Kalake (Jane 66’), Tshwarelo Bereng, Tumelo Khutlang, Jane Thaba-Ntšo - Motebang Sera (Masoabi 46’)

Substitutes:
Sam Khetsekile, Mohau Kuenane, Kopano Tseka, Jane Tšotleho, Mabuti Potloane, Setho Moshoeshoe, Thabo Seakhoa, Nkoto Masoabi

Moses Maliehe: I warned my players about Uganda attack

Uganda right winger Emmanuel Okwi gave Jane Thaba-Ntšo a torrid time
in the Cranes 3-0 win over Likuena on Saturday...

Lesotho coach Moses Maliehe says he warned his side of the threat posed by Uganda before Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to the Cranes in Namboole.

The loss has left Likuena in a precarious position in Group L of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

At the halfway mark Lesotho is third in the group with two points from three games behind second placed Cape Verde (four points) and leaders Uganda (seven points).

It means Likuena have to beat Uganda this evening in Maseru to get back in the race to reach next June’s finals in Cameroon. The top two sides in the group will qualify for the 2019 AFCON.

Maliehe said he warned his players after watching Cape Verde beat Tanzania 3-0 last Friday evening in the group’s other game. Maliehe said he advised his team Cape Verde’s decisive win would inspire Uganda to come all guns blazing against Likuena at the Mandela National Stadium.

“I told them that Cape Verde beat Tanzania by many goals on Friday and that Uganda would come attacking very hard. I was trying to make them aware of the situation that happened (to us),” Maliehe said

Despite several half chances, Likuena were on the back foot for much of Saturday’s game.

Most of the damage came down Lesotho’s left flank where Maliehe selected Jane Thaba-Ntšo (normally a winger) as a makeshift leftback. Cranes right winger Emmanuel Okwi ran riot in the first half in particular scoring the opener and then masterminding a penalty from which Farouk Miya scored to make it 2-0.

Maliehe made two changes at halftime bringing on Kopano Tseka (a more natural defender) for Thaba-Ntšo. He also introduced Nkoto Masoabi for Mabuti Potloane to support Motebang Sera upfront.

The changes didn’t improve Likuena’s defending, however. Okwi scored a third midway through the second half to seal a comprehensive 3-0 win for Uganda.

“We didn’t play well in the first half,” Maliehe said.

“In the second, we tried to come up with a second striker to push (Uganda) back as we searched for something but that happened for only ten minutes and then from there, Uganda was on top of us. They have a good team and I would like to congratulate them for beating us.”

Likuena host Uganda at Setsoto this evening. Kick-off is at 18:00. In the other Group L game, Tanzania host Cape Verde.

Group L standings:


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Uganda
3
2
1
0
4
0
4
7
2
Cape Verde
3
1
1
1
4
2
2
4
3
Lesotho
3
0
2
1
2
5
-3
2
4
Tanzania
3
0
2
1
1
4
-3
2

Lesotho’s AFCON 2019 qualifiers:
11 June 2017
09 September 2018
13 October 2018
16 October 2018
16 November 2018
22 March 2019
Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho
Lesotho 1-1 Cape Verde
Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
Lesotho v Uganda
Lesotho v Tanzania
Cape Verde v Lesotho

Friday, October 12, 2018

A crucial four days for Lesotho on the road to AFCON 2019

It's a big few days for Tumelo Khutlang and his Likuena teammates...

Lesotho faces a pivotal 2019 Africa Cup of Nations double header against Uganda over the coming days.

The first game is on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Namboole, Kampala with the return fixture next Tuesday at Setsoto Stadium.

Uganda with 4 points and Lesotho (2 points) are the top two sides in Group L of AFCON 2019 qualifying after two games.

Likuena began their campaign with a 1-1 draw away to Tanzania in last June before another 1-1 stalemate with Cape Verde at Setsoto two weeks ago.

The other two teams in the group, Cape Verde and Tanzania, will also faceoff in a double header with Tanzania travelling away first.

Likuena sitting in a good position…

Group L standings:


P
W
D
L
GF
GA
GD
Pts.
1
Uganda
2
1
1
0
1
0
1
4
2
Lesotho
2
0
2
0
2
2
0
2
3
Tanzania
2
0
2
0
1
1
0
2
4
Cape Verde
2
0
1
1
1
2
-1
1

Likuena are in a good position in Group L, in fact, this is Lesotho’s best chance to qualify for the AFCON.

For the first time ever, the AFCON has been expanded to 24 teams from 16 which means two sides from each of the 12 qualifying groups will qualify for Cameroon 2019 (instead of one as was the case before).

Lesotho currently sits in those top two spots and so this is a crucial few days for Moses Maliehe’s side. Preferably, Likuena would like to record a win in one of the two games against Uganda after starting the campaign with two draws.

However, even two draws against Uganda may be enough given that the Cranes are the favourites in Group L.

Four points going into the last two group games would still give Likuena enough control of their own destiny.

Group L is so evenly matched that it is unlikely there will be a winner of both games in the group’s other double header between Tanzania and Cape Verde (it is unlikely either Tanzania or Cape Verde will come away with six points).

What is important for Likuena is they still find themselves in a position to qualify for next year’s AFCON finals when the final two qualifiers come around, against Tanzania in November and Cape Verde next March.

Football changes very fast.

Right now the seas are calm and the road seems far with four group matches to go. However, by this time next week Lesotho will only have two games to play in the group. It is important things don’t get away from Likuena over the next two games against Uganda.

Which team will start?

Likuena Squad:
Goalkeepers:
Samuel Khetsekile (LCS), Likano Mphuthi (LDF), Mohau Kuenane (free agent)
Defenders:
Kopano Tseka (Lioli), Mafa Moremoholo (Lioli), Nkau Lerotholi (LMPS), Basia Makepe (LMPS)
Midfielders:
Tšepo Toloane (LDF), Tshwarelo Bereng (Black Leopards, SA), Tšotleho Jane (free agent), Hlompho Kalake (Bantu), Mabuti Potloane (Matlama), Tumelo Khutlang (Black Leopards, SA), Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama)
Strikers:
Masoabi Nkoto (Real Kings, SA), Motebang Sera (Matlama), Setho Moshoeshoe (LCS)

The only certainty for Saturday’s game in Namboole is Bantu defender Bokang Sello will miss out through suspension meaning Lesotho goes into the game without a natural leftback.

Maliehe was hit with an added blow because of the absence of Lesia Thetsane who is playing in United States college football for Columbia College and is unavailable due to academic commitments.

Thetsane was Lesotho’s first choice leftback during the team’s run to third place at the COSAFA Cup in July but also missed last month’s draw with Cape Verde.

It leaves Maliehe with two options; one, Kopano Tseka could come into the defence at rightback with captain Mafa Moremoholo shifting to leftback or, two, Jane Thaba-Ntšo (normally a winger) will fill in on the left side of defence.

Shifting Moremoholo to leftback is not a big problem in itself because he has featured there numerous times in the past for Likuena and at club level for Lioli.

The other two parts of the equation are slightly more worrisome, however. Tseka has yet to hit peak form this season because niggling injuries and is not a natural fullback. Centreback is very much Tseka’s preferred position.

Thaba-Ntšo, similarly, has limited experience of playing in defence and is an attacking player by nature. This wouldn’t be as much of a problem in a home tie but, away from home, Likuena’s chances will depend a lot on having defensive solidity in order to allow the side’s pacey forwards such as Tumelo Khutlang and Motebang Sera to steal chances on the break.

Kopano Tseka could be drafted into Likuena's defence...
Maliehe will also have to find a replacement for Luciano Matsoso after the winger suffered an injury during a midweek friendly against Free State Stars.

The rest of the team picks itself.

Likano Mphuthi will start in goals with LMPS teammates Basia Makepe and Nkau Lerotholi marshalling the defence. Tšepo Toloane and Tshwarelo Bereng will reprise their combination in midfield with Khutlang on one wing and Nkoto Masoabi likely leading the frontline from the start.

Expectations?

Uganda qualified for the last AFCON in 2017 in Gabon. The Cranes are top of Group L and remain favourites to win the group. A draw in Kampala, therefore, would be a good result for Likuena.

Firstly, it would keep Likuena’s hopes alive and it would also pile pressure on Uganda. Uganda are winless in four matches (with two losses and two draws) and failure to win in front of their home fans would keep the Cranes stuck in neutral. That would perfect for Likuena heading into Tuesday’s game.

Uganda’s last four games:
27-03-18
Uganda
0-0
Malawi
D
30-05-18
Central Africa Republic
1-0
Uganda
L
02-06-18
Niger
2-1
Uganda
L
08-09-18
Uganda
0-0
Tanzania
D

Previous meetings, Likuena v Uganda:
02 September 2006
Uganda 3-0 Lesotho
2008 AFCON qualifier
16 June 2007
Lesotho 0-0 Uganda
2008 AFCON qualifier

“We have been preparing for this match since the Cape Verde game,” Likuena coach Moses Maliehe said.

“The motivation for the game in Uganda will be that we always do well in away games and we have to maintain those standards.”

Lesotho’s AFCON 2019 qualifiers:
11 June 2017
09 September 2018
13 October 2018
16 October 2018
16 November 2018
22 March 2019
Tanzania 1-1 Lesotho
Lesotho 1-1 Cape Verde
Uganda v Lesotho
Lesotho v Uganda
Lesotho v Tanzania
Cape Verde v Lesotho