MASERU — Lesotho got their new international era off with an impressive 2-1 victory over Botswana in Gaborone on Tuesday.
Likuena’s winning goals came courtesy of Thulo Ranchobe and Botswana-based striker Lehlomela Ramabele who was making his first appearance for the national side.
Both goals were struck in the first half with Botswana pulling one back in the second half.
The victory was a perfect start to the new Likuena era under Leslie Notši.
This was Notši’s first international outing since he took over the reins in July and the first for the national squad since their outing against Mauritius in September 2009.
More importantly though the win comes after two uninspiring practice games against Swaziland last week in which Lesotho lost 1-0 to their visitors and played to a drab goalless draw in the other match.
The 2-1 win is Lesotho’s first victory over Botswana in six matches since March 2003 when Likuena beat the Zebras 1-0 in Gaborone.
Lesotho had initially planned to play Botswana on August 10 but the game was put off after Botswana opted to take on Kenya first.
The win over a full strength Botswana side is a boost for Lesotho football and the national team ahead of their 2014 Fifa World Cup preliminary round qualifier against Burundi in November.
Botswana has been one of the best teams of the year and was the first nation to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Botswana are ranked 78th in the world while Lesotho is 185th.
It is a win that will also come as a huge sigh of relief.
Lesotho’s games against Swaziland had brought with them many questions as to where Lesotho is trying to go with its football.
When Likuena was disbanded in February last year the message was that the team would be built around the national Under-20 team that qualified for the Caf Africa Youth Championship which was played earlier this year in South Africa.
But in the games against Swaziland only Tsebang Lebata, Montoeli Sonopo, Salebone Lekhooa and Kopano Tseka made it onto the field.
It was not what the watching public had expected and the performance itself wasn’t the best.
Although Likuena were well-organised the team lacked rhythm and cutting edge upfront.
Lesotho were unable to be an attacking threat in the final third a point that was highlighted by the Swaziland coach in his post-match interview.
But Tuesday’s win is the perfect confidence tonic as Likuena continue to build up to the World Cup qualifier against Burundi in two months time.
If Likuena see off Burundi in the preliminary tie they will square off against regional giants Zambia, Sudan and West African powerhouse Ghana in Group D.
Lesotho has never qualified for the World Cup and Africa Nations Cup.