Likuena . . . 0
Swaziland . . . (0) 1
Seephephe “Mochini” Matete had the worst possible start to his tenure as national team coach after Likuena lost 1-0 to Swaziland on Friday night.
The Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) has given Matete the Likuena job on an interim basis, but Friday’s loss at the Setsoto Stadium could only have added ammunition to those who don’t believe he is the best man for domestic football’s hottest seat.
Friday’s tie appeared headed for a goalless draw until defender Sepiriti Malefane failed to clear Swaziland’s searching cross into the penalty box, which was tapped home by second-half substitute Sandile Hlatjwako in the 88th minute.
The match started with Swaziland enjoying possession and dominating the exchanges in the middle of the park and only poor finishing — and the alertness of Lesotho goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane — saved Likuena the humiliation of going to half-time trailing the visitors.
Lesotho’s midfield was particularly disappointing in the first half, with Tšoanelo Koetle, Phafa Tšosane and Mabhuti Potloane failing to strike an understanding, much to the disappointment of the crowd.
After the break, Likuena introduced the duo of Molefe Lekoekoe and Thapelo Tale in place of Tšosane and Lekhanya Lekhanya and the change brought much-needed urgency into the Lesotho game.
Striker Tšepo Lekhooana could have then broken the deadlock in the 52nd minute, but his shot from just outside the box, soared over the bar.
As the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, Likuena were throwing everything at their counterparts but could not get the much-needed goal.
However, it was Sihlangu who would have the last laugh with Hlatjwako sweeping in the only goal of the match.
After the match, Matete said his side had played well considering the fact that they only trained together for four days.
Matete also said his charges would bounce back in today’s second clash between the two sides, also set for Setsoto Stadium.
“We played well, considering that we only managed to train for four days as a team and we have a lot of new players in the squad now.
“We just have to take it from here and I believe we will bounce back in the second match as I have seen the right combinations to use,” Matete said.
He also expressed satisfaction with the level of commitment shown by the team.
“The boys showed commitment, which was very pleasing. But we need two to three more friendly matches before the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers begin in May,” he added.
On his part, Swaziland coach, Harris Bulunga hailed his side for the win but lamented lack of tactical discipline in the team.
“I am happy for the players that they won the tie but I believe we still lack some tactical discipline. There were times when we were losing concentration and letting our opponents come at us.
“We must go back to the drawing board and rectify those mistakes, and play even better in the second match on Sunday,” Bulunga said.
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