Sports

Likuena holds Ivory Coast to a draw

Chris Theko

The Senior National men’s soccer team, Likuena settled for a goalless draw when they hosted Ivory Coast in their second 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group stage Qualifiers match at the Dobsonville Stadium in South Africa yesterday.

Likuena came into the encounter at the back of a 0-2 loss in the hands of Comoros last Friday in their opening Group H tie away.

The visitors were in control of the game from the first whistle looking to bury the match while Lesotho was under pressure defending all the attacks.

Likuena Coach Vaselin Jelusic who has so far earned reputation as something of a ‘defence-specialist’, fielded a starting first-11 which entailed a host of seven defenders, two midfielders and a lone striker in Motebang Sera showing little to no intent of an agile approach to winning the game.

Jelusic had been fielding not less than six defenders starting with the friendly against Ethiopia where he used a 6-2-2 formation later changing it in the game against Comoros where he fielded a 7-2-1 formation playing with only one striker and seven defenders.

Yesterday the defensive Serbian mentor used a 4-5-1 formation.

Meanwhile, the Indomitable Lions were determined from the start taking the game to Lesotho whose role was simply absorbing the pressure with the defenders doing most of the work within the first 30 minutes.

It was the visitors that continued the attack streak throughout the first half as the host enjoyed a better ball possession with the visitors managing the game, hence the break arrived with no goals separating the two sides. 

After the halftime break, Sera made way for Nkoto Masoabi and the change proved to be effective as the team begun winning possession. 

Lesotho’s goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane, was still the busiest of the two goal minders with a number of attacks still going beyond the final third.  

Attacking midfielder, Ts’epo Toloane was brought-in on the 75th minute for Thabo Mafatle and his introduction brought some life into the Likuena setup, combining smoothly with Masoabi.

The game settled in a balanced manner in the last 10 minutes with Likuena showing their visitors some competition on the ball possession.

In the 88th minute, Katleho Makateng was brought in for Lesia Thetsane but the Ivory Coast defense remained resolute in making sure there was no threat into their end, thus the game ended at a goalless stalemate.

Following the result, Lesotho seats in fourth position with one point after two games. They anchor a group led by Ivory Coast with four points, Zambia in second place and Comoros in third due to a lower goal difference.

Meanwhile, Likuena will not be heading home following the clash as they have an international friendly set for Monday against South Africa at the FNB Stadium.

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