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Training still banned but Seychelles plans to take on Lesotho in AFCON 2023 qualifier

Victoria, Seychelles | January 29, 2022, Saturday @ 08:00 in National » SPORT | By: Sedrick Nicette Edited By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3726
Training still banned but Seychelles plans to take on Lesotho in AFCON 2023 qualifier

Seychelles in white in action against Lesotho in March 2016. (Seychelles News Agency)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles national football team is expected to start its qualification matches in the African Cup of Nations 2023 (AFCON) competition against Lesotho in March.

Seychelles was drawn against Lesotho last week and the two teams last met at the same stage of the competition in March 2016. The Seychellois side won the home leg 2-0 before losing 2-1 in Lesotho but qualified for the next round 3-2 on aggregate.

"Our chances are good because when I looked at the draw there were two groups and Lesotho was one of the countries that we wanted to be drawn against. Of course, it is because of our past results with the team in 2016. So, it is a favourable draw for us," the national team coach Vivian Bothe told SNA.

The island nation will be looking to repeat the feat this time, especially with confidence high after going four games unbeaten to winning the Mahinda Rajapaksa Cup in Sri Lanka, last year.

Seychelles will face Lesotho in the first leg of the competition on home ground at Stad Linite on March 21 before travelling to the Setsoto Stadium for the second leg a week later.  

With current health restrictions in place on team sports in the country, training for the national team players is a concern for Bothe.

"For the time being, no training is taking place but I have discussed with the Federation that they have to go back to the Ministry of Health [to discuss this issue] as we have the competition coming up and we must train. Although it is a team sport, there is much individual work we can do with our players," he told SNA.

Another concern is match practice as there are no local matches taking place and Seychelles' friendly matches in Bangladesh in January were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there are players from the competition in Sri Lanka still with the team when training restarted, prior to the restrictions on group sports placed at the end of December 2021, Bothe said that new players were called in. 

The African Cup of Nations 2023 hosted by Ivory Coast will be the 34th edition of the tournament organised by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) every two years

The winners of the qualifying matches will enter a draw for the group stages where 48 countries will battle it out in 12 groups. The group winners and runners-up will qualify for the finals in June of 2023.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has participated in AFCON since 1990 but has never reached the final stage.

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Tags: African Cup of Nations 2023, Mahinda Rajapaksa Cup

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