Likuena off to a flying start in Durban
Lesotho got off their campaign at the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup to a flying start with a 2-1 victory over Malawi in the Group B match played at King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday.
Veselin Jelusic’s charges grabbed the lead in the early stages of the match after Malawi defender Sankhani Mkandawire deflected the ball into his own net from a Katleho Makateng’s shot inside the penalty box.
However, Malawi did not sit back and created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities but struggled to find their way past brilliant Likuena goalkeeper, Sekhoane Moerane, who was winning his 15th cap for the national team.
Malawi star man of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, Gabadinho Mhango looked very dangerous every time he had the ball, but the Lesotho defence marshalled by skipper, Basia Makepe put a good shift to stop the newly signed AmaZulu striker from getting his team back into the game.
The match headed to the half-time break with Lesotho still enjoying the 1-0 lead.
The second half started with Malawi still dominating ball possession and giving Likuena a tough time especially in attack, but Jelusic’s charges remained solid in defence.
With Malawi applying all the pressure on Lesotho in search of the equalizing goal, it would be the Mountain Kingdom country that against the run of play capitalised on poor defending to double their lead.
The new poster boy of Lesotho football, Makateng showed his composure inside the penalty box after the hard work by Jane Thabantšo, getting the ball past Malawi goalkeeper Ernest Kakhobwe for Likuena’s second goal in the 56th minute.
The 23-year-old Makateng had a clean sweep in the recent Lesotho’s Vodacom Premier League awards winning four accolades after scoring 20 goals in his first season playing topflight football.
Veteran Thabantṧo and Thabang Malane were forced out of the match by injuries with their places being taken by Tṧepo Toloane and Rethabile Mokokoane late in the second half.
Malawi gave their opponents a scare towards the end of the match as veteran striker Chiukepo Msowaya pulled one back in the 88th minute, but Lesotho held on to clinch a 2-1 victory to get off their COSAFA campaign to a good start.
Lesotho has now completed a double over the Flames at the COSAFA Cup having beaten them 1-0 at the 2016 edition of the tournamant held in Namibia.
Lesotho: Sekhoane Moerane, Motlomelo Mkwanazi, Rethabile Rasethuntsa,Kopano Tseka, Basia Makepe, Lisema Lebokollane, Thabang Malane, Thabo Mafatle, Motebang Sera, Katleho Makateng, Jane Thabantso.
Malawi: Ernest Kakhobwe, Stanley Sanudi, Precious Sambani, Sankhani Mkandawire, Chikoti Chirwa (Peter Banda), Chimwemwe Idana, Stenie Davie (Chiukepo ), Gabadinho Mhango (Kuwali), John Banda, Blessings Mpokera, Khuda Myaba (Patrick Mwaungulu)