Senong impressed with Likuena performance



Leemisa Thuseho

THABO Senong, the senior men’s national soccer coach could be disappointed with his side’s recent results but is impressed with the team’s performance.

Senong said this even though his team failed to collect maximum points in back to back ties against Benin.

Likuena, as the side is affectionately known, lost 1-0 in Benin on Saturday before holding their visitors to a goalless draw at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday in Group L of the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

And despite failing to win against a relatively easier opponent, Senong is happy with the team’s performance.

“I am very impressed with the team’s performance over the two games,” Senong said.

“Of course, I am disappointed that we did not collect maximum points but the performance is encouraging.”

The suspension of football and other sporting activities in March this year due to Covid-19 is one of the challenges that his side faced in preparing for the two games. They however, worked hard to restore the players’ fitness.

Senong said his players must still improve their decision-making in the final third to make a positive impact in future games.

“We need to focus on the next matches…these are tough teams but anything is possible, any team is beatable,” he added.

This could be Likuena’s last official game this year as their next AFCON fixtures are scheduled for next year.

The team will play host to Sierra Leon before taking a trip to Nigeria in March next year.

Likuena is last in the group with two points. Nigeria is leading the group with 8 points while Benin are second with 7 points while Sierra Leon are third with 3 points.

Likuena’s will need to win all their two remaining games against Nigeria and Sierra Leon and also pray that Benin loses all its remaining games. This is a mountain to climb for Likuena as they must win against Nigeria in its own backyard having beaten Lesotho 2-4 in Maseru.

On Tuesday Senong made only two changes to the team which started in Benin. The changes saw Tšepo Seturumane and Jane Tšotleho starting the game while benching Jane Thabantšo and Tumelo Khutlang was out injured.

The game started slowly as the visitors were slowly taking control of possession but struggled to carve out goal scoring chances while the home side piled long balls upfront. However, that failed to work as Benin defenders won most of the balls.

Strikers Motebang Sera, Nkoto Masoabi and Seturumane started upfront but the trio’s impact was below par as they failed to create any chances.

Seturumane had a chance to give the home side a lead in the on 26 minutes after connecting well with a Tšotleho free kick but his free header hit the ground and missed the target by few inches.

Few minutes later Seturumane was back with a shot from outside the box but his attempt was too weak and was easily collected by Benin goalkeeper.

Before the break Benin were close to scoring but Likuena’s goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane was well placed to contain Adenon Abdou Kaled’s close range shot.

In the second half both sides kept on searching for a goal but fruitlessly until the last whistle. Benin seemed more relaxed as they knew a draw would be good for them having won at home.

Under the new substitution rule Senong had a chance to make up to five substitutions but he only made two introducing Jane Thabantšo for Seturumane on 65 minutes. He also introduced Litšepe Marabe in the dying minutes of the game for Masoabi.

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