Senong bemoans lack of experience

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Moorosi Tsiane

THABO Senong says poor game management brought his side’s downfall despite scoring first against an unstoppable Nigeria to lose 2-4 in an Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier (AFCON) 2021 qualifier at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday.

The Sunday result saw Nigeria cement its place at the summit of Group L with six points. Benin are second after a 1-0 win over bottom-placed Sierra Leone. Likuena are now third with one point.

Likuena surprised the Super Eagles grabbing an early lead in the opening 10 minutes courtesy of a Nkoto Masoabi header. However, the joy was short-lived as Alex Iwobi equalised shortly afterwards capitalising on a Mkhwanazi Motlomelo blunder failing to clear the ball from the box.

The home side was punished once again towards the dying minutes of the first half through a Chimerenka Chukwueze header.

James Osimhen scored Nigeria’s third and fourth goals in the second stanza.

Likuena’s second goal came as own goal from Collins Awaziem towards the dying minutes of the match.

Senong told the media after the match that although his charges showed courage throughout the match, inexperience and poor game management cost them the match.

“Our players showed lots of courage throughout the 90 minutes and we had some good moments but we were inconsistent in some actions and applications due to lack of experience,” Senong said.

“We led early in the match but they remained focused and we got carried away. We got bit excited and we conceded before half two goals in the first half. Our game management was poor.”

Senong said their opponents’ experience made a difference on Sunday but said they would have to build from the positives of the match.

“When our players concentrated, they applied themselves well but Nigeria’s quality was evident especially later in the second half when there was lapse of concertation. After we scored, we struggled to manage the game.

“This is a lesson learnt. It’s important that we focus on our next assignment as there are still four matches to play. I saw a lot of positives from our players while the number of chances that we created give me hope.

“Some of the decision went against us but we can only move on and learn. We must learn from it and move forward; it is crucial for our players to learn and acquit themselves better in the next four games.”

Senong said he was impressed with the progress that the team has made since he took over in July 2019 but said there was still more to do.

“The team is disciplined on and off the field, they are now confident in attack maybe because our attackers play in foreign leagues and those are the positives we are taking to next matches. However, we must improve our set plays and game management.

“When we lead, we must control possession and delay the game. We must play for the team and not the spectators; that’s what our players should know,” Senong said

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