Likuena head Coach Thabo Senong has announced his final 21-man squad for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers back-to-back with Benin next week.
The final selection comes a month since the announcement of the 32-man provisional squad announced last month.
According to Senong, preparations have gone on smoothly although extra-ordinary effort has had to be exerted in order for achievement of match-day acceleration. He also thanked the national soccer governing body the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) for the unwavering support he has enjoyed since the beginning of preparations and said it was very important due to the new normal of playing and dealing with football matters.
“We had to work twice as hard with the players, I am grateful for their commitment and the support we received from LeFA,” Senong said.
The squad was trimmed down to a manageable 21 players for travelling logistics closer to the back-to-back ties against Benin.
“As the coaching stuff, unfortunately we had to cut the team to meet the requirements. We only have one key player that will not be traveling with the team to Benin and that is Hlompho Kalake,” he said.
Hlompho is currently serving a suspension for the two yellow cards he received in the tournament, one recieved against Nigeria and the other against Sierra Leone.
“He is a player that from the plans of the coaching staff he’ll still be joining the team upon our return from Benin,” he added.
Senong retained most of the squad which earlier this year played two matches against Sierra Leone in a one all draw away, before being whipped 4-2 at home by the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
While there are some new additions to the team, Senong said the selection was based on current form as well as the character of each player, on and off the pitch.
The first of the two upcoming qualifiers will be an away match against Benin which will be played in Benin on Saturday 14 November 2020 while the home match will take place three days later on 16 November 2020 at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.
New entrants to the squad include Tumelo Ngatane and Jane Tšotleho, with South African-based Tšoarelo Bereng being axed due to lack of game-time.
In preparation for the up-coming clashes, the played two friendly matches during their four weeks training, first with Bantu FC locally and Free State Stars of South Africa where they played to a goalless draw before losing by a single goal to nil respectively. They are expected to play one more friendly against South African Glad Africa Championship side Skukhuni FC on November 9 at Makhulong stadium.
Senong cited the scare of covid-19 as the main reason behind lack of friendly games with other national teams.
“We all know that it is always nice and highly effective to have a friendly with other countries but then again logistics do not agree currently so we decided to look for other options,” he said.
Lesotho currently sits in 3rd position in group L of the 2021 AFCON Qualifiers with one point from two games. The group is led by Nigeria who have picked up six points from their opening two games while Benin are in second position with one win, one loss and three points with Sierra Leone sitting on the bottom of the table on level points with Lesotho separated by goal difference.
Likuena final squad