Lesotho outstage Malawi to end 23-year wait for COSAFA final
Ten-men Lesotho produced one of their best performances beating Malawi 3-0 on penalties following a one-all stalemate in the Hollywoodbets COSAFA Cup semifinal clash played at King Zwelithini Stadium on Friday.
The Leslie Notsi’s coached side were the first to get off the mark as Neo Mokhachane’s cross found Jane Thabantšo unmarked in the box to easily slot home for his sixth COSAFA Cup career goal.
Malawi were able to level matters a few minutes later from the penalty spot after Motlomelo Mkhwanazi handled the ball in box leading to a yellow card.
Chawanagwa Kaonga stepped-up to the challenge and beat Sekhoane Moerane to get his team back in the game.
Things went from bad to worse for Lesotho when Mkwanazi was shown a red card for a second bookable offence just before the match went for interval.
Lesotho had to play the second half with nine-men leading to their technical team sacrificing midfield maestro, Tshwarelo Bereng for Kopano Tseka to play alongside Basia Makepe in the heart of their defence.
The change helped Likuena to remain resolute throughout the second half and were able to take the match to be decided on penalties.
Motebang Sera, who is Lesotho all-time leading goal-scorer in the competition, took the first penalty and scored to give his country confidence in the spot-kicks.
He was followed by Thabantšo, who showed his composure in the box giving Lesotho a 2-0 cushion after Moerane saved Malawi’s first penalty.
Moerane came into the party again saving the second and third spot-kick and scoring one as the Mountain Kingdom country snatched a 3-0 victory in the shoutout.
The win over Malawi saw Lesotho reach the COSAFA final for the first time since 2000, where they lost to Zimbabwe in a two-legged tie.
Likuena will battle Zambia’s Chipolopolo in the final scheduled for King Zwelithini Stadium as the two countries chase for the winner’s prize money of M500,000.
The runners-up will pocket M250,000 while the team in third and fourth positions ill take home M150,000 and 100,000 respectively.
There are also individuals accolades worth M20,000 each for the Player of the Tournament, Goalkeeper of the Tournament and Top Goal-scorer.