Lesotho test for Locally-based Warriors

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By Sports Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Warriors will be looking put one foot in the 2020 African Nations Cup (Chan) finals to be held in Cameroon when they host the Crocodiles of Lesotho in a do or die third round first leg qualifier at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Sunday.

Zimbabwe’s locally based Warriors, who are captained by Partson Jaure are aiming to make their fourth appearance at the fifth edition of the continental competition for home based players early next year.

Although their opponents, Lesotho are yet to make a debut at the Chan finals they pose a real threat against as they come into the two legged final qualifier on a high after dumping the high rated South Africa out of the competition with an emphatic 6 – 2 aggregate victory.

While Likuena were knocked out of the 2022 Qatar by Ethiopia over two legs in August and September it is interesting to note that the side has lost only once, in open play, in eight competitive matches this year.

Lesotho lost 2 – 1 to Botswana at Cosafa and the only other loss was penalty shootout defeat against Zimbabwe at the same competition.

Warriors coach Joey Antipas is wary of the threat posed by Likuena.

“We know that we are up against a Lesotho side which is a very tricky side, who edged South Africa in the last round and they lost out to Ethiopia in World Cup qualifiers preliminary round. It’s a big task ahead but it can be done. We just have to go out there with the right temperament and right attitude and secure a positive result,” Antipas said.

But Zimbabwe has dominated Lesotho a lot in the past whenever the two teams meet.

Antipas’ men will be looking to get a comfortable lead in the first leg of the Chan encounter ahead of the second leg set for October 18.

While Zimbabwe has in the past dominated its matches against Lesotho, their coach Thabo Senong is adamant his charges can stop Zimbabwe’s dominance over them ahead of the Sunday’s clash.

Lesotho have managed just one victory over Zimbabwe in the last five games between the two countries, which came in an international friendly match played in Maseru in 2017.

“The good thing about football is that every match gives you a chance to start afresh. You cannot really focus on the past, but you can always use it to get statistics,” Senong said ahead of the match.

“You must understand that this is a different generation of the Lesotho team with different players. Some are still young and some are experienced. It’s also the same with the Zimbabwean team, different players and different coach.

“If we prepare well and play well, I think we have a good chance. They also have a chance if they prepare well. It will go to the team that wants it more on the day. Our focus has been on improving our weaknesses and hopefully we can give Zimbabwe a run for their money on the day.”