MASERU — Lesotho received a tough draw when they were drawn against hosts Libya, Egypt and Mali in the Caf African Youth Championship which kicks off in March.
Although Makoanyane XI avoided defending champions Ghana and powerhouse Nigeria in the Tuesday draw, the feeling among football lovers is that this was quite a tough draw for Leslie Notši’s charges.
Libya, as the hosts, will be expected to put up a good show.
In fact, in seven of the last eight editions of the youth tournament the host nation has reached the semi-final stage or better.
Egypt, an African football powerhouse, will be expected not to encounter any problems in acclimatising in neighbouring Libya.
Mali, who could perhaps be viewed as the Makoanyane XI’s easiest opponents, have one of the finest youth systems on the continent.
Mali qualified for the Athens Olympic Games in 2004.
Nevertheless speaking to the Lesotho Times yesterday, Makoanyane XI mentor Notši said he was satisfied with the draw.
“I’m happy with the draw,” Notši said.
“We are comfortable, we are aware that it is not easy, we going to approach the tournament with confidence and we will prepare ourselves well.
“It’s an advantage to us to be playing in this tournament, it’s only when we play the top sides that we will develop,” he said.
Lesotho will open its Group A account on March 18 against Egypt.
The Makoanyane XI will then take on hosts Libya on March 21 before their final group game against Mali on March 24.
Defending champions Ghana will face neighbours Nigeria, Gambia and Cameroon in Group B.
The top two sides in each group will qualify for the Fifa Under-20 World Cup later this year which is yet another mouth-watering prospect for the eight nations competing in the African Youth Championship.
“The draw is a challenge to the team, the technical team and the nation as a whole,” Notši said.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the Makoanyane XI team that is likely to do battle in Libya have been selected in the Under-23 side that will face Malawi in an All Africa Games qualifier on Saturday.
The return leg will be held at the Setsoto Stadium in a fortnight.
The national Under-23 team left Maseru for Malawi last night.
Goalkeepers Phoka Matete of Rovers and Daniel Jousse of Bantu, Matlama defender Nkau Lerotholi and Likhopo strikers Thapelo Tale and Mokone Marabe are the only new additions to the squad.
Notši said the additions were part of the national team’s development plans.
“They played in the Under-20 team and they have only recently been phased out. It’s a continuation of our development programme,” Notši said.
“We want to win, that is always our aim,” he said about Saturday’s match.
“We know it’s not going to be easy but we want to build an advantage ahead of the return match.”
The All Africa Games, contested by under-23 teams, will be held in Mozambique in September and its results will establish which countries qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The Under-23 side beat Matlama 3-1 in a preparatory match played at Setsoto Stadium on Tuesday, thanks to goals from Tale, Mokone Marabe and Litšepe Marabe.
Goalkeepers: Kananelo Makhoane (Likhopo), Phoka Matete (Rovers), Daniel Jousse (Bantu)
Defenders: Salebone Lekhooa, Raotsi Raotsi (both Likhopo), Basia Makepe (Joy), Motiki Mohale, Nkau Lerotholi (both Matlama), Kopano Tseka (Mphatlalatsane), Tumisang Bereng (Platinum Stars Reserves, South Africa)
Midfielders: Mohapi Mohapi (Likhopo), Jeremea Kamela (Joy), Mosiuoa Boseka, Mangana Maoela (both Bantu), Tšoanelo Koetle (Matlama), Montoeli Sonopo (Lioli)
Strikers: Litšepe Marabe, Mohau Khali (both Matlama), Thapelo Tale, Mokone Marabe (both Likhopo), Lehlomela Ramabele (Botswana Defence Force)
Youth Championship draw:
Group A: Libya, Egypt, Mali, Lesotho
Group B: Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia