Preview: Lesotho vs. Rwanda – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying – Africa clash between Lesotho and Rwanda, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The final match of gameweek four in Group C of the CAF World Cup qualifiers will see Lesotho taking on Rwanda at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Owing to the stadiums in Lesotho failing to meet CAF standards, the Crocodiles will play their ‘home’ matches for the remainder of this competition in neighbouring South Africa.

Match preview

Group C was expected to be one of the most difficult to predict in the CAF World Cup qualifiers, and after three weeks, that is exactly how it has panned out, with just three points currently separating top from bottom.

Ranked 149th according to FIFA World Rankings, Lesotho have emerged as the somewhat surprising group leaders, currently on five points and still unbeaten with a record of one win and two draws.

That victory came last week, when they overcame Zimbabwe 2-0 in Johannesburg, with Rethabile Rasethuntsa and Thabantso Jane scoring in the first half, marking the fourth game in succession that the Crocodiles have avoided being shut out.

It was also the first competitive match they had won in regulation time in their last six games, dating back to a 1-0 victory over Mozambique on the road in the COSAFA Cup back in July 2023.

Under the guidance of Leslie Notsi, who took over just before the start of these qualifiers, Lesotho have looked much sharper in attack and will need another big performance here if they are to break down this generally stingy Rwanda defence.

After keeping clean sheets in each of their last four matches, including back-to-back against Zimbabwe and South Africa in weeks one and two, Rwanda conceded their first goal in this competition last week to Benin, which turned out to be the decider in the match, marking their first defeat in qualifying.

Still, there is no doubting that the Wasps have been significantly better in this competition than they were during AFCON qualification, where they ended bottom of their group and failed to win any of their six group-stage matches.

That loss to the Cheetahs brought an end to a five-match unbeaten streak for Torsten Spittler‘s side and was the first defeat that the German tactician has conceded since taking over as head coach at the start of November last year.

The new boss will now look to bounce back from his first loss, and if he is able to orchestrate a victory here, it would be his first on the road since arriving and the first for the nation since November 2022.

While Rwanda are ranked 18 places above Lesotho in the world standings, the two have never faced off in an official match, and the winners here will gain a significant psychological advantage before they meet again in March next year.

Lesotho World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:

Lesotho form (all competitions):

Rwanda World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:

Rwanda form (all competitions):

Team News

Motete Mohai, who was forced to pull out of Lesotho’s training camp just prior to the international friendlies back in March was an unused substitute last time out and will be hoping for a bigger role this week.

Thabantso’s goal against the Cheetahs will likely see him retain his place in the attacking trio, though Notsi may be tempted to hand Lesotho Premier League Golden Boot winner Lemohang Lintsa a start after Sera Motebang was kept fairly quiet in the last match.

Rwanda were handed an injury blow ahead of this match with York Rafael being forced to leave the training camp after sustaining an injury in the side’s 1-0 loss away to Benin last week.

Hakim Sahabo was also withdrawn at halftime in that match and has been flagged as a doubt for this one. Samuel Gueulette and Kevin Muhire are the most likely to replace their stricken teammates in the starting 11 this week.

Lesotho possible starting lineup:
Moerane; Malane, Makhele, Rasethuntsa, Matsoele; Matsau, Fothoane, Mohai; Thabantso, Lintsa, Sefali

Rwanda possible starting lineup:
Ntwari; Omborenga, Mutsinzi, Manzi, Imanishimwe; Muhire, Bizimana, Rubanguka; Gueulette, Nshuti, Mugisha

We say: Lesotho 1-1 Rwanda

Few would have expected these two teams to be leading the group after three weeks, and a win for either will put them in a very strong position when the competition resumes in March next year.

However, with both sides being very evenly matched on paper, we cannot see a clear favourite here and feel that they will cancel each other out by the final whistle.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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