Make or break tie for Likuena

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MASERU— Lesotho’s national football team, Likuena, will take on Sao Tomé at Setsoto Stadium in an African Nations Cup return leg as they seek to overturn a 1 — 0 deficit suffered last weekend.

Likuena will have to be at their best if they are to entertain hopes of progressing to the next round.

Lesotho’s chances are hanging by the knife-edge after the defeat and nothing short of victory will do for Leslie Notši’s boys.

The key would be to ensure the visitors do not score a goal and turn Setsoto Stadium into a fortress.

Lesotho national football teams have enjoyed fine results at the stadium and remain unbeaten over the last two years.

The Under-17, Under-20 and the national Under-20 women’s have all got positive results at Setsoto while Matlama beat uperSport United in a Caf Champions League tie early last year.

Lesotho beat Burundi 1 — 0 at Setsoto in November and the side will be banking on the strength of the fortress again.

But Likuena won’t have it easy.

The team has been stuck in Gabon after failing to get a flight out of that country.

They are expected to return home today for the second leg on Sunday.

The winner of the tie will go on to face Sierra Leone in the next round of the qualifying competition.

The confidence shown by the team in winning their recent matches means that there are unlikely to be many changes to the team that Notši will pick for Sunday’s fixture.

Complacency may have been a cause for the result in Sao Tome.

“Our boys underestimated Sao Tomé and paid a big price,” the Lesotho Football Association spokesman, Baba Malephane, said.

“There will be no changes to the team that will play in the second leg,” Malephane said at a press conference at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on Tuesday.

Malephane said the fixture against Sao Tomé had come at a bad time resulting in the team failing to get flights.

“The fixture was released at a bad time in December telling us that we are playing in January,” Malephane said.

“The boys were left by the plane and we are now expecting them back tomorrow.
However they are continuing with their training where they are,” he said.

“We hope they will do well on Sunday and proceed to the next round.”

There will be 16 nations participating at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals, with South Africa automatically gaining entry as hosts.

For the first time since 1990, all the qualifying matches will be played on a knockout basis without any group action because of the short time between the 2012 finals and 2013 competition.

The 14 winners of the second round ties to be played in February and June will be joined by 16 finalists from the 2012 African Nations Cup finals — Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Gabon, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zambia.

They will go into a draw for a third and last round of 15 matches and the winners of those ties, to be played over two legs home and away, will qualify for the finals in South Africa.

The seven countries who have not entered the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers are the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Eritrea, Mauritania, Mauritius, Swaziland and Somalia.

2013 Africa Cup of Nations preliminary qualifier:

First leg

Sunday, 15 January Sao Tome 1 — 0 Lesotho

Second Leg

Sunday, 22 January Lesotho vs Sao Tome (Setsoto Stadium)

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