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It’s quality vs mentality-Senong

by Sunday Express
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Moorosi Tsiane

LIKUENA coach Thabo Senong says his side’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group L qualifier against Nigeria at Setsoto Stadium this evening will be a match of quality against mentality.

Likuena goes into its second match of the qualifiers on the back of a 1-1 draw with Sierra Leone on Wednesday. The Super Eagles on the other hand came from a goal down to prevail 2-1 at home over Benin on the same day.

Senong told Sunday Express yesterday that they will go into the match with a positive mindset after the Sierra Leone match which he thinks they could have won.

“I believe we could have won the Sierra Leone match because we created more chances than the hosts,” Senong said.

“We got inside the final third and were unfortunate that Sera’s goal was denied. We could have scored two more goals but were unconfident in front of goal.”

Senong said Nigeria would be his biggest test yet but said his side just needs to be in the right state of mind.

“Nigeria will win the group and the other three nations (Benin, Lesotho and Sierra Leone) will battle for the second spot the reason being their quality. In our match tomorrow (tonight) it is just going to be quality vs mentality.

“The only way to match them is to have the right mentality for 90 minutes on Sunday,” he said.

Senong said their plan is to unsettle Nigeria and ensure they are uncomfortable.

“We watched their game against Benin and it was evident that they created the same chances with Benin but the difference was the quality of players. When Nigeria doesn’t have the ball, they make mistakes and the question is will we be confident enough?

“However, in the two sessions that we had in the run up to tomorrow’s (tonight’s) match, we have worked on that. We have had physiological sessions and have called two masseurs to massage the players. We wanted to ensure that there is a team spirit, chemistry and that our players are focused on this match.”

Senong said he would be happy if his players used the game to market themselves as there will be many people watching them.

“This is a game that can change the player’s careers so they must step up. I will be happy if they play without fear and market themselves. The match can open doors so that the country can export players and we can eventually build a strong squad.”

Senong said he was hopeful that talisman Sera will be ready for the match as their medical team has been working hard to bring him back to fitness.

“Our medical team has been working very hard to ensure that our players are in good shape. We had planned to use Sera for only 45 minutes against Sierra Leone and we were lucky to have him for 60 minutes because he came with a hamstring injury from Celtic.

“Our medical team worked with them last night (Friday), took them to physios today (Saturday) and with regard to recovery we had two masseurs who came and worked with them so they look much fresher.”

He said they would rotate the squad as their tactical approach to the match would be different from the one they employed against Sierra Leone on Wednesday.

“Our tactical approach will be different. At home we require different personnel and the players are fully aware of that.

“We are lucky to have Mkhwanazi Motlomelo because he is a good centre back and a good holding midfielder. In Sierra Leone we needed more stability than creativity hence we played him in the central midfield but here at home we need creativity so, he is aware that he might be shifted to another position,” the gaffer said.

Senong said road to Cameroon 2021 is still long and tonight’s results may not matter much.

“It’s a long road and the competition is still open for number two. Whatever result we get tomorrow (today), the question is, can we learn from it? Can we take something out of that and take advantage of Benin and Sierra Leone.

“I want to be realistic. We must be humble and respect Nigeria…but I can assure you that we will ensure they are uncomfortable on the field,” Senong said.

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