Likuena to face Malawi in All Africa qualifier

MASERU — Lesotho have been pitted against Malawi in the preliminary qualifying round for next year’s All Africa Games in Mozambique.

The first leg of the qualifier is scheduled for the weekend of January 7 to 9 in Malawi, with the return match taking place a fortnight later in Maseru.

The football competition at the All Africa Games, held every four years, is meant only for Under-23 players.

The Lesotho Football Association was scheduled to meet yesterday to decide who would take charge of the national side and when the preparations for the qualifier would start.

The draw for the All Africa Games qualifiers was done on Tuesday.

One team from each of the seven qualifying zones will join hosts Mozambique at the All Africa Games, which will run from September 3 to 18.

Lesotho are in Zone Six along with Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

South Africa were inexplicably left out of the draw.

None of the countries in Zone VI has ever won the men’s football tournament since the All Africa Games started in 1965.

Zimbabwe and Zambia, however, came closest when they reached the final, winning silver, in 1995 and 1999 respectively.

Malawi and South Africa claimed bronze in 1987 and 1999 respectively.

In the last edition, in Algeria in 2007, Cameroon won the men’s football gold.

Lesotho have never qualified for football at the All Africa Games.

However, after the national Under-20 side qualified for the African Youth Championship in Libya next year, much will be expected of the Under-23 side.

If Lesotho beat Malawi in the preliminary round, they will face the winner between Angola and Namibia in the first round of the qualifiers in April.

Should Lesotho make it again, they will then face the winners of the Zimbabwe/Zambia versus Swaziland/Botswana in June and July for a spot in Maputo.

Meanwhile, Matlama will be in the hat when the draw for next year’s African Champions League takes place later this month.

This will be the first time that Lesotho will be represented in the continental club championship since 2008.

Lesotho did not register a team in the Champions League for the past two years due to financial reasons and the lack of a football ground suitable for international matches.

However, Setsoto Stadium is now available after undergoing a facelift during the last two years.

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