MOTEBANG Sera came from the bench to score the solitary goal as Lesotho beat Eswatini 1-0 in a quarterfinal of the COSAFA Cup played at the new Peter Mokaba Stadium, in Limpopo province, South Africa yesterday.
The win booked Likuena’s place in the semi-finals of the competition for the second successive year.
Likuena looked the better side in the opening exchanges and were comfortable on the ball.
Swaziland’s Felix Badernhorst also looked dangerous every time he had the ball for Swaziland.
Early in the match, Likuena had to deal with an injury scare after goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi hurt himself while trying to clear a corner kick.
Moments later, Luciano Matsoso and Tumelo Khutlang combined well and gave Swaziland defenders a tough time but lacked composure in the final third.
Lesotho nearly opened the scoring on the 21st minute as Swaziland failed to clear a well taken free kick by Hlompho Kalake.
The best chance of the first half for Likuena came through a long-range effort by Basia Makepe that was parried away for a corner kick by Mathabela Sandanezwe in the 24th minute.
Swaziland came close after Lesotho failed to clear their lines but the match headed for the break goalless.
Likuena dominated ball possession early in the second half but the team still failed to score.
Maliehe reacted with a double substitution by taking off Litšepe Marabe and Nkoto Masoabi and replacing them with Sera and Jane Thabantšo respectively.
Swaziland’s Wonder Nhleko also immediately made way for Zweli Nxumalo.
The change instantly paid off for Likuena as Sera punished the erratic Swazi defence by burying a superb Kalake pass in the 70th minute.
Sera turned the provider a few minutes later but Khutlang hit the post.
Likuena held onto the lead to reach the semi-finals much to the pleasure of Minister of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Mahali Phamotse who travelled to watch the match.
The Minister gave the Likuena players M5000 each ahead of their trip. Yesterday’s win means they are set to pocket a further M5000 each in winning bonuses from the Lesotho Football Association.
Likuena coach Moses Maliehe was elated that his charges won.
“We worked hard and I am happy that we won even though it was a tough match,” Maliehe said.
“Our plan remains getting into the final and we are happy that we beat Eswatini and went a step close to the final. We are now ready for the winner between Zimbabwe and Botswana.”
The Warriors of Zimbabwe and Botswana’s Zebras clash at 1715 hours tonight at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.