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COSAFA Cup was a learning curve – Mohapi

Leemisa Thuseho

LESOTHO’S under-20 men’s national team coach Bafokeng Mohapi says this year’s COSAFA Cup tournament was a learning curve for the young players in the squad.

This comes after the team lost all its three group games.

Makoanyane XI played their last game on Tuesday afternoon going down 4-1 to the tournament’s six times champions, Zimbabwe in a game where both sides were playing for pride both having been eliminated from the tournament.

The game saw Hlomelang Lebina scoring Lesotho’s only goal for the entire tournament.

Lesotho started the tournament with a 1-0 loss to Mozambique before losing 7-0 to neighbours South Africa to send them tumbling out of the competition.

The results saw Lesotho finishing at the bottom of Group A with no points from three games. Mozambique topped the group with seven points following a goalless draw in their deciding clash against South Africa on Tuesday. Mozambique have sealed a spot in the tournament’s semifinals.

Mohapi said his team was made up young players who can still play two or three more COSAFA under-20 tournaments therefore, this year’s edition was a learning curve for them. He also cited the “poor” preparations that were affected by Covid-19 and the players’ school commitments.

“Our performance was not good at all but it was a learning curve for the players,” Mohapi said.

“In the next COSAFA tournaments, most of the players will still be eligible to play, therefore, this is a good investment. It was difficult to prepare for the tournament as some of the players joined the preparations at the last minutes due to school commitments,” Mohapi said.

Ahead of their last game, he said they motivated the players and he had hoped that they were ready to come to the party and try their level best. However, things went south when they failed to defend set pieces.

Lesotho will have to go back to the drawing board and come back a better side next season as the country is still searching for its debut title having reached the finals in 2005 and 2017.

This year’s edition is also being used as a qualifying tournament for the under-20 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) scheduled for Mauritania in February and March 2021. The AFCON tournament will in turn serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2021 FIFA under-20 World Cup pencilled in for Indonesia from 20 May to 12 June 2021.

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