LIKUENA coach, Veselin Jelušić, is expecting a tough encounter when his side clashes with Ivory Coast tonight in its 2023 Africa Cup on Nations (AFCON) group stage qualifiers at Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg.
The coached side is hoping to bring its qualifying bid back on track after losing 2-0 to Comoros in its first game last Friday.
Likuena is playing its home games on foreign soil because Setsoto Stadium, Lesotho’s only international stadium, is banned from hosting Confederation of African Football (CAF) from hosting international matches due to its bad state.
In his pre-match conference yesterday, Jelušić said he was expecting a tough test tonight hinting he would employ a defensive approach.
“Ivory Coast have experienced professional players who play in strong European leagues, and we expect they will dominate possession,” Jelušić said.
“All we can do is to defend in an organised and persistent manner and try to neutralise their attack as much as possible. We just hope to get a few chances to attack.”
While he is confident of his charges’ commitment, they must focus on their tactical discipline.
“We are not doubting our players’ fighting spirit, but they must maintain focus and tactical discipline throughout the game because professional players punish their opponents whenever they get a chance.”
After missing Likuena’s tie against Comoros on Friday, speedy striker Katleho Makateng’s availability for selection for today’s game was yet to be decided as of yesterday. Therefore. Nkoto Masoabi and Motebang Sera are likely to lead Likuena’s attack if he remains unavailable.
Makateng is still recovering from a concussion sustained two weeks ago during a Likuena vs Namibia friendly.
Makateng said he was yet to decide whether or not to include the player.
Ivory Coast are heading into the game highly motivated after beating Zambia 3-1 in the Friday group opener.
Unlikely as it may be, a win today will be vital for Lesotho as all its opponents in the Group H have already started collecting points.
In other Group H results on Tuesday, Zambia beat Comoros 2-1 in their second group game.
Only two teams will advance to the finals after the qualifiers. Ivory Coast are the hosts and will cede the first spot to the second placed team if they finish top of the group.
As it stands, Lesotho, vying for its debut AFCON appearance, is at the bottom of Group H while Ivory Coast is leading the pack with three points. Zambia and Comoros are second and third with the same number of points.
Today’s match will also see Lesotho and Ivory Coast clashing for the first time ever. The game starts at 7pm.