THE national under-17 soccer team left the country yesterday for Blantyre, Malawi where they will take part in the COSAFA Cup from 11 to 20 October.
Lesotho is in group B alongside Angola, Mozambique and Comoros Islands while Group A is made up of the hosts Malawi, South Africa, Botswana and Zambia.
The side’s coach Halemakale Mahlaha said this year they are hoping for better results and are targeting to surpass the group stages having failed to achieve that last year.
Mahlaha’s charges were last year eliminated in the group stages after losing to Zambia and Mozambique. They only managed a 1-1 draw against South Africa.
“I am happy with the preparations that we have had although we did not play as many friendlies as we would have wanted,” Mahlaha said.
“However, the boys are ready and we are going to Malawi to compete this year. The target this year is to advance from the group stages to the knock out stage. When you are in the knock out stage, anything can happen.”
Bahlabani, as the side is affectionately known in football circles, played Wits University under-19 in a friendly on 4 October 2019 and lost 2-0. Mahlaha attributed the loss to stage fright.
“The match against Wits was fair but you could see our boys are not used to playing on the big stage. However, they improved in the second half where they created more chances although they failed to convert. This was also caused by poor decision making.”
He said last year they were also affected by the fact that other nations were using players who are bigger in stature. He said this is the reason for which their practice matches have been against teams with bigger players.
He said they have also selected a team that they believe will be able to do the job.
“It is not going to be easy. We cannot undermine our opponents because they have obviously selected their best squads. However, we are going there to fight in the hope that we will surpass the knockout stage,” Mahlaha said.
Bahlabani full squad:
Goalkeepers: Motlatsi Sebapala (Kick4Life), Maqebo Temana (Juventus), Sidwell Maluke (LCS Development)
Defenders: Neo Kholuoe (Lioli Development), Tumisang Sefeeane (Linoto FC), Khatebe Seotsanyana (Millennium Park Soccer Academy), Bakoena Monaheng (Rydo), Tumisang Nkubu (Kingdom Stars), Herey Zililo (Monaco)
Midfielders: Taemane Shea (LCS Development), Bokang Rajane (African United Stars Academy), Majara Mashela (LCS Development), Moqolosi Mothae (FC Likhopo), Relebohile Mathai (Top City FC), Popolosi Malibo (Litotjela FC), Muso Makopong (Libata FC), Refiloe Mokokoane (Winners FC)
Strikers: Kefiloe Nqoko (Hunters FC), Lintle Chochono (Matala Citizen FC), Relebohile Koloi (Lifefo FC).