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

Monday, July 21, 2014

A good win for Lesotho, but there is still work to do

Lesotho got the first part of the job done, a 1-0 win over Kenya at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday in the first leg of its 2014 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier. Now Likuena have to go and finish the job in Kenya. The winner goes through to the final stage of qualifying – a group containing Burkina Faso, Gabon and Angola – with the ultimate goal being a spot at the 2015 Afcon in Morocco.

That’s the carrot dangling for Lesotho.

There are many positives for Likuena.

Setsoto has really turned into a fortress for Lesotho and Likuena are enjoying their best period in competitive matches since a run between 1992 and 1994 when Lesotho went five matches unbeaten at home. Lesotho has only lost once in its past seven matches at home, conceding just three goals. Likuena’s only loss was to Ghana.

Lesotho's recent home form in competitive matches
22/01/12 Lesotho 0-0 São Tomé e Príncipe (Afcon qualifier)
10/06/12 Lesotho 0-0 Sudan (World Cup qualifier)
24/03/13 Lesotho 1-1 Zambia (World Cup qualifier)
16/06/13 Lesotho 0-2 Ghana (World Cup qualifier)
01/06/14 Lesotho 2-0 Liberia (World Cup qualifier)
20/07/14 Lesotho 1-0 Kenya (Afcon qualifier)

This is very encouraging.

A home fortress is always a prerequisite but most especially in African football.

Tšotleho Jane (10) v Kenya
Photo credit: Soccer Laduma
The team’s defensive solidity is another positive and gives hope for the second leg in two weeks' time. Lesotho has only conceded twice in its past four competitive outings.

Sunday’s display against Kenya wasn’t the best. Lesotho’s interim coach Seepheephe Matete was intent on keeping things tight and started with Thapelo Tale as the lone striker. 

Kenya was the better side for large parts of the first half, mostly via their superior physicality, while Lesotho was flat.  Likuena were also lucky; goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane spilled an early free-kick suspiciously close to the goal-line as Lesotho also battled early jitters.

Things improved somewhat when Mabuti Potloane replaced Thabo Masualle. Tšoanelo Koetle moved to right-back in a tactical reshuffle and he would end up having an influential game.
After the break Likuena improved slightly more and were rewarded 20 minutes into the second half when Tšepo Seturumane found the net with a header goal from Koetle’s cross . Lesotho had three further half-chances to add a bigger cushion for the second leg.

But, 1-0 it will be. Not a bad result at all. The pressure is now all on Kenya. One Likuena goal in the return on August 3 would mean Kenya need three to progress.

There is plenty of work still to be done, but Lesotho should wake this morning confident.

Lesotho XI v Kenya
1. Mohau Kuenane
2. Thabo Masualle
3. Jerry Kamela
4. Nkau Lerotholi
5. Moitheri Ntobo (c)
6. Tšoanelo Koetle
7. Bushy Moletsane
8. Motlalepula Mofolo
9. Thapelo Tale
10. Tšotleho Jane
11. Tšepo Seturumane

Phafa Tšosane
Lekhanya Lekhanya
Mabuti Potloane
Sepiriti Malefane
Tšepo Lekhoana
Basia Makepe
Kananelo Makhooane

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