By Moorosi Tsiane
MASERU — Makoanyane XI coach, Moses Maliehe, is confident his team can get to the knockout stages after they were paired alongside Kenya, Mauritius and Comoros in Group A of the upcoming Council of Southern African Football (Cosafa) youth championship set for December 3-14 in Lesotho.
The draw took place at Maseru Sun Cabanas last Sunday.
The 14-nation tournament has been divided into four groups with group winners set to meet in the knockout stages.
Maliehe told this paper that the draw is fair and favourable for the host team to reach the knockout stages of the competition.
“We are in a group that one would say is easy and fair, but it is also important that we do not underestimate our opponents because that could prove very costly,” Maliehe said.
“We will have to prepare ourselves very well as there will be too much pressure on the home team to do well,” he said.
The youth team mentor said he is confident the team will be ready by the time the tournament gets underway early December.
He said the plan is for his side to play at least three friendly matches leading to the youth tourney.
The tournament was last played in Botswana in 2011 with Zambia being crowned champions for the third successive time which saw them become the most successful country since the youth tourney was introduced.
Local Organising Committee chairman, Lebohang Thotanyana, assured the Cosafa delegation during the draw that all is in place for the Lesotho tournament.
“Everything is almost ready for the tournament and we are happy with the progress as the organising committee,” Thotanyana said.
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“It is also important that we call upon the football fraternity, as well as the business sector, to rally behind this tournament and the team so that we make it a memorable event,” he said.
He said the Setsoto Stadium and Seeiso Leshoboro Stadium will be the main stadia that will be used during the competition.
Machabeng College Grounds, Police Training College (PTC) Ground, Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) Ground and Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena will be used by the participating teams for the training sessions.
“Both stadiums are ready for the competition and all that is left is to improve a few things before the competition gets underway,” said Thotanyana. On behalf of Cosafa, Timothy Shongwe said this tournament is important for the growth of young, talented football players.
To youths in football, he said it has been a turning point for many who are big names in southern African football.
“This tournament is very crucial to the growth of young players. It has been the break point of many youngsters who are today big superstars in their own countries,” Shongwe said.
He also praised the government of Lesotho, especially the Minister of Gender, Youth, Sport and Recreation, Thesele ’Maseribane for taking a leading role to help make the tournament a success.
Maseribane thanked the regional football governing body for giving Lesotho a chance to host the youth competition championship.
“I would like to pass my gratitude of thanks to Cosafa for trusting us with the responsibility to host such an important football event,” ’Maseribane said.
He pleaded with the corporate world to join in and help make the tournament a success.
Holders, Zambia, have been paired alongside South Africa, Namibia and Seychelles in a group that has been dubbed the group of death for this year’s competition.
Guests that graced the draw included executive committee members of the Lesotho Football Association, the Cosafa delegation and the local corporate sector.