LIKUENA coach, Thabo Senong, is worried that his team may not have adequate time to prepare for its two must win Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
This because of the recent suspension of football in Lesotho amid the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Desperate to arrest the sharp increase in cases of Covid-19, the government this month suspended sporting activities leaving only non-contact sports. The suspension is expected to end when the national lockdown end on 27 January.
The Likuena mentor this week said going into the qualifiers with a team that lacks match fitness has already worked against them in the previous matches against Benin last November.
Senong’s charges lost 1-0 away before drawing nil-all at home five days later. The side is at the bottom of group L with two points from four matches.
Likuena’s next assignments will be against Sierra Leone at home on 22 March 2021 before flying to Nigeria a week later.
Nigeria is topping the group with eight points while in second is Benin with seven points. Sierra Leone is third with three points.
For Lesotho to increase their chances of making their first appearance in the finals in Cameroon in January next year, they will have to win their remaining two matches. And Senong admitted it won’t be an easy task given the circumstances.
“In the two matches we played against Benin, you could see that in terms of physical fitness, we were better than them but we lacked match fitness which was working on the players’ confidence,” Senong said.
“So, we lacked creativity which is something that you get when you have confident players who are not afraid to make mistakes.
“Unfortunately, you get confidence when you are playing and as things stand, it looks like we might once again go into the qualifiers with players who are lacking match fitness.” Senong said.
He said he was not expecting an extension of the lockdown hoping that the lockdown doesn’t get extend and football returns immediately after is lifted.
“But we are just hoping that as soon the lockdown is lifted, football will be allowed to return so that when we begin our programme early February, the players will be in shape. By the time we play in March, they would have played several domestic league ties and that should help us.”
That some of their opponents in the group have players in European leagues that are active currently will make the task much harder.
“Most of the leagues are still active especially in Europe where our opponents have most of their players playing, so it is indeed going to be a challenge,” Senong said.