A brave Lesotho team managed to frustrate a star-studded Cote d’Ivoire side as they held them to a scoreless stalemate in the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Thursday.
The Elephants tried all tricks in the book just to get the breakthrough but the Lesotho defenders stayed resolute to make sure they earned a point at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg.
Lesotho head coach Veselin Jelevic made two alterations to the team that suffered a 2-0 defeat to Comoros in the opening group game a few days back in Moroni.
Motebang Sera and Lesia Thetsane replaced Tsoarelo Bereng and Lehlohonolo Lenka respecitvley in the start list of the Likuena who were looking for their only second win in Africa Cup of Nations qualifications since November 2018.
Jean-Louis Gasset altered the Cote d’Ivoire team that beat Zambia 3-1 in Yamoussoukro last week with five changes to the starting line-up as Wilfried Zaha and Jean Evrard Kouassi earned spots.
The other three players who came in are Hassane Kamara, Wilfried Konan and Odilon Kossounou as they replaced Ghislain Konan, Willy Boly and Simon Deli respectively.
The Elephants had a total dominance over Lesotho in the first half having achieved 87 percent of the ball possession but that could not turn their advantage into goals.
Lesotho goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane made a couple of saves to deny Cote d’Ivoire making sure he side didn’t concede before the break including a Max Gradel free-kick and header from Serge Aurier.
The Elephants continued with their thorough dominance in the second half yet they were able to get just one shot on target after teenager Karim Konate’s overhead kick in the dying embers of the match was calmly collected by Moerane.
Cote d’Ivoire lead the Group H standings with four points while Lesotho languish at the bottom with just a point. Zambia and Comoros have a point each after two games.
The matchday three and four fixtures will take place in September as Cote d’Ivoire will face Comoros and Zambia take on Lesotho all in a double-header.