THE senior national men’s soccer team, Likuena, last night registered its second loss in Group L of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers after being beaten 1-0 by Benin at Porto-Novo Stadium in Cotonou.
Thabo Senong’s charges have now dropped to the bottom of the log with just one point from a draw with Sierra Leone last year before they lost to Nigeria at home.
Nigeria and Sierra Leone drew 4-4 on Friday.
Likuena started the match sitting at the back and it took the home side 22 minutes to break the deadlock with Jodel Dossou who easily slotted home.
The match went for the break with the home side still in control of the match. Shortly after the break, Senong made two changes withdrawing Motebang Sera and Jane Thabantso for Jane Tsotleho and Thabo Seakhoa.
The visitors tried to become more direct but they still failed to harm the home side’s defender.
Benin sat back allowing Likuena loads of possession while trying to catch them on the break.
Towards the end of the match, Senong brought in Lehlohonolo Fothoane for Thabang Malane and Tsepo Seturumane for Tumelo Khutlang but the changes failed to change the game.
Senong said Benin’s formation caught them by surprise.
“Their set up was different from what we were expecting, so they caught us by surprise but our boys responded well,” Senong said.
“Unfortunately, we committed one mistake and we got punished… From there we have been chasing the game to get an equaliser but it didn’t happen.”
He said he is wary that the reverse fixture will be tough but maintains he is confident in his boys.
“We still have the second leg to play and without doubt, it is going to be a tough one but I hope we will get a chance to recover, have one session maybe and work on our shortcomings. I still believe in the team and I hope we can pull it off.
“We were playing against a very experienced side and they have showed how good they are. So, we will have to work on our concentration levels coming into the second leg.”
This was Benin’s first win and it left the side second in the group.
The two sides will meet again at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday.