LIKUENA gaffer Thabo Senong has expressed his disappointment in his team’s failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Senong’s charges were thumped 3-0 in their last Group L ties in Lagos on Tuesday.
A first half goal from Victor Osimhen and a second half goal apiece from Oghenekaro Etebo and Paul Onuachu were enough to see the Super Eagles qualifying for next year’s finals as the Group winners.
The loss means that Likuena were anchoring the group with three points from six matches.
The three-time continental champions made it a double against Likuena after registering a 2-4 win in the first leg at Setsoto Stadium in 2019.
In his post-match interview on Tuesday, Senong admitted that it was always going to be a mountain to climb for his side to qualify in the same group with the likes of Benin, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
“I am disappointed with the results but I am really encouraged by the team’s performance in both the Sierra Leone and the Nigeria matches,” Senong said.
“It was obviously going to be tough to play against the likes of Nigeria, their individual quality was effective on the day. We did everything to maintain our structure and function as a unit both when defending and attacking.”
Senong however, bemoaned his players’ lack of match fitness as they had last played competitive soccer in January when a lockdown was declared.
“The lack of match fitness was also a factor and at the same time we missed some of our key players due to injuries.”
He however, said there were some positives outcomes which they can derive from the qualifiers.
“We have some positives out of this FIFA break as we gave new caps to six young players (Tumelo Ngatane, Monaheng Ramalefane, Mokoteli Mohapi, Tau Masiu, Thabo Matšoele).
“For me, the future looks good; we just have to continue building a group of players who would be ready in the next qualifiers.
“We have learnt a lot and I am grateful for the work the players have been putting in. I am also grateful to the technical team. It was never easy but yes, we look forward to continuing the task of building a better Likuena,” Senong said.