Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER studying Lesotho’s recent battles in international football, Warriors caretaker coach Joey Antipas concluded they have a tough task on their hands tomorrow. He has summoned his players to produce their best when they host the first leg of the Africa Nations Championship final, qualifying tie, at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
The Warriors, who are hoping to qualify for their fifth CHAN finals, need to find the back of the net at home and hope to avoid conceding.
But Antipas has been called to look deep into his tactics against the visiting Likuena who caused a huge upset when they eliminated neighbours, South Africa, 6-2 on aggregate in the previous round.
“We are playing a team that has been together for some time now. If you look at them closely, they play almost the same team for the World Cup qualifiers,’’ said Antipas.
“They play same team for AFCON, COSAFA and now CHAN while we are just trying to get our local players together. But, one thing I know for sure, is that our local players will give 100 percent. We are hoping to get a positive result to take to the second leg.
“What we are asking for is the backing of the fans since we are at home. We are one nation and we expect to see patriotic Zimbabweans coming to fill the huge stadium in support of the team. We cannot go there and take Lesotho for granted. If we do that then the apple cart could be upset.
“So, we have got to take them for the good side that they are. Of course, they could be coming from a tiny mountain kingdom but they have got talent and they have shown that.
“We have seen some snippets of their games in the World Cup qualifiers and in the CHAN. One thing for sure, that we know as coaches and players, is that we have a game on our hands.”
Zimbabwe are seeking a fifth appearance at the finals to be hosted in Cameroon next year.
The Warriors were part of the cast at the inaugural edition in 2009, 2011, 2014 and 2016.
They only missed the 2018 edition after they were shocked by Namibia. Lesotho have never qualified for the final of any major tournament.
They recently roped in South African coach Thabo Senong to help turn around their fortunes. Likuena arrived in Harare yesterday and are set to have their official training at the match venue this afternoon.
Former South Africa Under-20 coach, Senong, who was recently unveiled by the Lesotho Football Association as the new head coach of the Likuena, indicated he was leaving no stone unturned ahead of the match.
He told the Lesotho publication, The Post, he hopes to transform the country’s football landscape following his success with the South Africa national Under-20 team whom he guided to successive FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournaments recently.
“We want to see Lesotho qualify for tournaments, your AFCONs. We want to see Likuena win tournaments such as COSAFA. It is important that we appreciate the current style of play which is too much love for possession.
“Let’s take that possession and put it into a very effective, attractive football that will create goals and influence a winning mentality within players and the Basotho nation. I think for the past decade many countries on our continent have an idea that Lesotho football is about keeping the ball, skills (and) creativity but they need to know Lesotho can also be dangerous with set-pieces.
“Lesotho can be very dangerous with effective, directive football. Lesotho can be very flexible and surprise many countries because that’s what we are willing to do as the coaching staff,” he said.