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Likuena tamed by the Elephants


Seabata Mahao

The national football team, Likuena went down 1-0 to the Elephants of Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers clash played on September 9 in Ivory Coast.

Likuena had left for the west African nation on September 6 for their last group H match faceoff against the next year’s tournament hosts.

By virtue of being the next hosts, Ivory Coast has automatically qualified for the biennial showpiece.

But Likuena headed into the clash rooted at the bottom of the group with a solitary point from their only draw with Ivory Coast when they met in Dobsonville, South Africa in 2022.

The game was therefore a dead rubber match as Likuena had no chance of qualifying for AFCON if they won it.

Likuena went into battle without their key players including captain Basia Makepe, who has retired from international football; Motebang Sera, who is out with injury; Lisema Lebokollane who is also injured; Jane Thabantšo, Neo Mokhachane, Kopano Tseka, and Thabang Malane.

Addressing the media ahead of the team’s departure to Ivory Coast last week, Likuena interim coach, Lesley Notši was optimistic that they will do well having played to a draw in their first leg meeting with their opponents.

“Despite going without some of our key players, we remain hopeful that we will do well since we had a tie with them from the first match. We have multiple new faces in the squad and so we are very much confident,” Notsi said.  

Notsi planned to follow the successful approach they used at the recent COSAFA tournament in South Africa, where Likuena narrowly lost the final to Zambia.

“In Durban we focused on our players’ strength and that worked for us, but knowing that it is not going to be easy for us in this match, we will have to manage the pressure.”

Meanwhile, Likuena will also participate in the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers, which are due to take place from next month with the fixtures yet to be announced.

Likuena will also have new faces for the provisional squad ahead of the busy schedule that awaits the national team in the month of September.

Likuena’s final squad for the Ivory Coast clash was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Sekhoane Moerane and Teboho Ratibisi.

Defenders: Rethabile Mokokoane, Rethabile RasethuntÅ¡a, Motlomelo Mkwanazi, Rethabile Senkoto, ‘Mellere Lebetsa, Thabo MatÅ¡oele, Mohlomi Makhetha and Lebesa Lebesa.  

Midfielders: Thabo Lesaoana, Tshwarelo Bereng, Morena Moloi, Lehlohonolo Fothoane, TÅ¡epo Toloane, TÅ¡epang Sefali, Lepheana Mofolo, Teboho Letsema, Bonang Mohapi and Khubetsoana Kamela.

Forwards: Katleho Makateng and Thabiso Mari.

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