LIKUENA’S woes against Zimbabwe continued yesterday when they lost 3-1 on penalties in the semi-final of the COSAFA Cup played at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa.
Shot stopper, George Chigova was once again the hero for the Warriors saving penalty kicks from Hlompho Kalake and Mafa Moremoholo to take his team to the second successive final of the competition.
Khama Billiat, Jameson Mukombwe and Alex Madimu all scored their spot kicks for Zimbabwe.
Chigova also saved two penalties when Zimbabwe beat Botswana in the quarterfinals last weekend.
Nkoto Masoabi was the only Likuena player who managed to beat Chigova.
Both teams looked comfortable on the ball from the opening exchanges with Tumelong Khutlang once again proving to be the danger man for Lesotho in attack.
Zimbabwe on the other hand were building their game around star forward Billiat, who looked to be in the mood to play.
Lesotho’s first two chances came from a free kick and a corner kick played by Khutlang but failed to trouble the Zimbabwean defenders.
Mabuti Potloane also tried his luck from outside the box as Lesotho enjoyed a lot of possession but struggled to penetrate their opponents’ defence.
Billiat also made an attempt from long range as the match approached the 20th minute but he shot over the bar.
Lesotho’s best chance of the first half came on the 25th minute when Khutlang played a through ball to Motebang Sera but he missed the target.
The Matlama forward was among the two changes in the Lesotho team having come from the bench to score the winner against Swaziland in the semi-finals.
The Warriors got the first booking of the match which went to Orlando Pirates’ Marshal Munetsi, who was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle on Khutlang.
Zimbabwe finished the first half the stronger of the two teams and could have grabbed the lead on the 43rd minute. Brian Amidu Abbas found himself one-on-one with Lesotho goalkeeper Likano Mphuthi who made a brilliant save.
The Warriors started where the left off in the second half winning an early corner kick that also needed Mphuthi to rescue his team.
Zimbabwe made the first change of the match bringing in Talent Chawapiwa for Abbas while Lesotho’s Jane Thabantšo replaced Potloane.
Moments later Khutlang saw his weak shot being saved by Chigova.
Maliehe made another change as the Econet Premier League top goal scorer, Nkoto Masoabi came in for Sera and the striker immediately missed a good chance from a Thabantšo pass on the 68th minute.
Zimbabwe also let Lesotho off the hook as substitute Philana Tinotenda Kadewere failed to connect properly with a cross from Chawapiwa with the defence caught ball watching.
Chawapiwa was too much to handle for young Lesia Thetsane as he caused havoc for Lesotho down the left flank a late in the second half.
The match ended at goalless draw and headed to the penalty shootout.
Likuena coach, Moses Maliehe said he was disappointed to come so close to reaching the final.
“I am disappointed to come this close but also, this is good preparation for the upcoming AFCON qualifier against Cape Verde at Setsoto Stadium in September.
“We could have done better during the match and in the penalties but once we missed the first penalty, it affected us mentally,” Maliehe said.