Ivory Coast closed out their Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign with a 1-0 win over Lesotho at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro on Saturday evening.
The match was a low-stakes one for the Elephants, who were already guaranteed a spot at the tournament as both hosts and top-two finishers in Group H, but they nonetheless put in a solid display and claimed victory thanks to Ibrahim Sangare’s strike with just over a quarter hour played.
Ivory Coast move to the top of the standings but could be displaced by fellow qualifiers Zambia, who will play Comoros later on Saturday, while Likuena finished bottom of the log with just one point from six outings.
Ivory Coast took control of the game early on and created two great chances for Jean-Philippe Krasso, the second of which arrived in the 10th minute and saw the attacker through on goal before sending an attempted chip just off target.
Yet the Elephants only had to wait until the 16th minute to claim the lead, with Sebastien Haller doing great work to tee up Ibrahim Sangare, who scored with a low, left-footed shot from just inside the penalty area – though Lesotho goalkeeper Sekhoane Moerane will feel he should have done better.
Ivory Coast dominated the remainder of the first half without claiming a second goal (they did have one correctly ruled out for offside), while Lesotho did not manage to draw goalkeeper Yahia Fofana into any notable action.
Likuena made a double change at the start of the second half, sending on Tshwarelo Bereng and Teboho Letsema, but Ivory Coast continued to dominate, almost adding to their lead when Simon Adingra saw his goal-bound header cleared off the line by Rethabile Senkoto in the 57th minute.
The Elephants continued to have promising but ultimately unsuccessful attacking forays through the rest of the game, while Lesotho were unable to produce any kind of credible threat of an equaliser.
Ivory Coast (1) 1 (Sangare 16’)
IVORY COAST: Fofana, Diomande, Seri, Kossounou, Ndicka, Sangare (Kessie 69’), Diakite, Adingra (Konate 79’), Cornet (Bamba 69’), Krasso (Kouame 89’), Haller (Gradel 79’)
LESOTHO: Moerane, Mkwanazi, Mokokoana, Mofolo (Bereng 46’), Rasethuntsa, Sefali, Lesaoana (Matsoele 85’), Khubetsoana (Letsema 46’), Senkoto (Lebesa 90+6’), Makateng (Fothoane 85’), Toloane