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Likuena’s daunting AFCON task

Moorosi Tsiane

LIKUENA have a daunting task in the qualifiers of the next edition of the just ended Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) after being drawn in the same group with African football powerhouse, Nigeria.

Lesotho and the 2013 African champions are also in the same group with Sierra Leone and Benin.

The draw for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers penciled in for Cameroun was done in Egypt on Thursday.

The group is relatively tougher than the qualifying group for the just ended tournament where Lesotho blew a chance for a debut AFCON qualification being pitted against Uganda, Cape Verde and Tanzania in Group L. Likuena broke Basotho hearts being held nil-all away by Cape Verde on the last day of the qualifiers to relinquish their golden opportunity to Tanzania who thumped already qualified Uganda 3-0.

However, it seems to be a tougher task to go against Nigeria, who beat Tunisia on Wednesday to settle for third place behind champions Algeria and third placed Senegal. Nigeria is arguably the toughest side in Group L.

And Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) secretary general Mokhosi Mohapi conceded that this will be a huge ask for Lesotho.

“The group looks tough and interesting; there are some nice battles to be seen,” Mohapi said.

Mohapi said the fact that the qualifiers will run concurrently with the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers might work to their advantage.

“We are looking at a scenario where Nigeria would be concentrating on the 2022 World Cup and we know that in such instances they focus on the bigger tournament and we will probably get a draw at home.

“Benin and Nigeria might also cancel out each other.”

He however, emphasised that they would not undermine Sierra Leone.

“Sierra Leone is tricky. People might underestimate them but they are not going to be easy opponents too,” he said.

He added that it was crucial for LeFA to start scouting for players who are playing in respectable foreign leagues to represent the country. He said he would present the idea to the LeFA leadership to see how it can be implemented.

The first and second rounds of the qualifying matches are scheduled for 11 and 19 November 2019 with the next two rounds penned in for 31 August and 8 September 2020. The next matches are set for 5 and 13 October and 9 and 17 November 2020.


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