AFCON qualifiers postponement worries Senong

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Moorosi Tsiane

LIKUENA coach Thabo Senong is worried about his players’ inactivity while some of their opponents in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers Group L qualifiers are in different European leagues.

Senong said this on Monday on the back of CAF’s decision to postpone the 2021 competition to 2022.

The senior national team side is third in the group following a one-all draw with Sierra Leone and a 2-4 loss to Nigeria.

Likuena are left with four matches, two back to back matches against Benin before playing both Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

CAF president Ahmad Ahmad said the decision to postpone the league was made on the back of uncertainties in different countries because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This decision was taken due to the uncertainties about the coronavirus health situation and especially because of the scheduling problems since four rounds of qualifiers would need to be fitted into the October and November windows for international matches,” said Ahmad.

AFCON was penned in for 9 January to 6 February 2021.

Ahmad said following the suspension of leagues across the world in March this year, there was little time left to complete the qualifications.

However, other leagues have re-opened while the future of Lesotho’s league are yet to be finalised. Although premier league teams have recommended that the league be ended in its current state, the Lesotho Football Association is yet to make its final decision.

And Senong said his players’ dormancy will negatively affect his team and they would likely need to start the preparations from scratch.

“We may have to start our preparations from scratch because while we have already selected our team, we are likely to make some changes…

“More importantly, the inactivity of the players is a major worry. The players themselves are also worried that they are not playing, they are not training and that means that they are not growing as players… I am worried about their sharpness when they return…

“It is also unfortunate that we don’t have players playing in Europe as opposed to our opponents who have players all over Europe but we have to look at our own situation and respect the laws of the country,” Senong said.

Senong said they would need full support of LeFA, league teams and the government to prepare for the remaining qualifiers since they will require robust preparations.

“It is a serious concern and it will require us to prepare even outside the FIFA calendar. We should hold longer camps, so we will need league teams’ corporation and the assistance of both LeFA and the government.

“The last time the team trained together was in February and it is unclear how long we must wait before playing again as a unit… I have watched a few matches in the leagues that have resumed and its evident that some players have lost touch… We also have similar concerns especially for our attackers who must work on their confidence complemented by fitness and the right tactics.”

He however, the extension must give them more an opportunity to call-up more local players.

“The extension might come in handy for us if our local champions play in the champions’ league where they will get more exposure. We also hope to play in the COSAFA tournament before the AFCON qualifiers resume,” Senong said.

 

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