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Likuena on tricky path to Ivory Coast


Chris Theko

Lesotho senior national men’s soccer team, Likuena has been drawn into a tricky group as it contests to make it to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 to be held in Ivory Coast.

Likuena has never made it to the continental showpiece finals and will be looking to put up a better show from the last attempt when it finished at the bottom of Group L with three points following three loses and three draws. Nigeria had topped the group with 14 points after six games, with Sierra Leone finishing second and also qualifying ahead of Benin on third-place due to a superior goal difference.  

Forty eight countries have been split into 12 qualifying groups of four, with the top two in each group reaching the finals.

Lesotho has this time been pitted against the hosts Ivory Coast who are already guaranteed a spot at the tournament and will have to beat Zambia and Comoros to the highest finish to make the cut.   

Likuena will have to work extra hard to secure their first ever qualification to the continental’s prestigious footballing spectacle. 

In his reaction to the 2023 Afcon draw, Lesotho Coach Veselin Jelusic was adamant that regardless of the teams they have drawn, his charges go into the contest with nothing short of getting maximum results.

“Regardless of teams we are going to play, our approach is the same, to prepare as better as we can, to have respect for all our opponents, but at the same time to do everything possible to get the best possible results in all the games.

“Of course, Cote d’Ivoire’s team are the hosts for the next year’s finals and will treat the qualifiers very seriously because they have already started with their preparations to make it a success. They are a powerhouse with top professional players.

“We know that Zambia are a very good team with some players playing in some of the best leagues in Europe, the English Premier League and Comoros are also a team made of professional players playing for European clubs in France, Belgium and so on, but we are ready for a world class showing” Jelusic said.

Qualifying is set to begin with two matches between 30 May and 14 June 2022. Two more fixtures will follow in September, with the final two rounds in March next year. 

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