National team coach, Seephephe ‘Mochini’ Matete, believes his team still stands a good chance of playing in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament set for Morocco.
Matete was full of praise for his charges, who were able to salvage a draw against Gabon on Wednesday night despite playing almost the entire match one man short after first-choice goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, was red-carded in the 35th minute of the Group C qualifier.
Likuena, as the national team is affectionately known, shocked Gabon when they grabbed the lead in the 70th minute through Lekhanya Lekhanya.
The visitors found the equaliser in the dying minutes of the match to get away with a draw and break the hearts of Basotho, who were hoping for the team’s first win in the group stage qualifiers, following Likuena’s 2-0 loss against Burkina Faso on Saturday last week.
However, Matete believes all is not lost for his team, whose preparations leading to the two matches were shambolic due to failure to raise funds by the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa).
The team’s next two fixtures—against Angola on 10 October at Setsoto stadium and versus the same team in Luanda five days later—would be very crucial for his team. Group winners and the runners-up automatically progress to the Afcon finals scheduled for 17 January to 8 February 2015 in Morocco.
“The point we got against Gabon was very important to keep our hopes of playing in Morocco next year alive,” said Matete. “There is still a long way to go and our next two matches will be very vital in keeping this dream alive.
“We had to sweat against Gabon; my boys did extremely well to remain composed after a very painful first half in which we made two forced substitutions due to an injury and Kuenane’s red card.
“What I can tell you is that we have a very strong group of players and we have the same dream of playing in the Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco next year.”
Matete said Burkina Faso are favourites to win the group having already collected six points from their opening two games of the campaign, adding however, that second spot is still up for grabs.
In addition to next month’s back-to-back fixtures against Angola, Likuena will host Burkina Faso at Setsoto stadium on 14 November and end their Afcon campaign away to Gabon on 19 November.
A total of 28 nations are playing in seven groups of the last phase of the qualifiers, which would decide who joins hosts Morocco in the finals. The top two teams from each group and best third-placed nation progress to the finals.
Full Group C results and fixtures
06/09/14: Gabon 1-0 Angola
06/09/14: Burkina Faso 2-0 Lesotho
10/09/14: Angola 0-3 Burkina Faso
10/09/14: Lesotho 1-1 Gabon
10-11/10/14: Gabon v Burkina Faso
10-11/10/14: Lesotho v Angola
15/10/14: Burkina Faso v Gabon
15/10/14: Angola v Lesotho
14-15/11/14: Lesotho v Burkina Faso
14-15/11/14: Angola v Gabon
19/11/14: Burkina Faso v Angola
19/11/14: Gabon v Lesotho.
Latest Group C table
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