THE Lesotho national under-20 soccer side, Makoanyane XI, will today leave the country for Kitwe, in Zambia ahead of their participation in the COSAFA Cup which runs from 2 to 14 December 2018.
Lesotho were drawn in Group C and open their campaign against Angola on Sunday before they face Zimbabwe three days later. They take on Botswana in their final group match on 8 December.
Coach Bob Mafoso who succeeded Leslie Notši after the duo worked together and led the team to the final of the 2017 edition of the tournament in South Africa said he was anticipating a tough outing.
“Technically, Angola is one of the countries which I think are miles away from the rest in our region looking at the way they have been able to export young players to Europe, especially Portugal,” Mafoso told this publication.
“This tells you that they have done things very well at youth level. Zimbabwe has always been a threat and has given Lesotho a tough time both at junior and senior level.
“I think we are probably at the same level with Botswana but you can see that football has grown in their country as their team Township Rollers was last year in the group stages of CAF Champions League.
“So, it’s safe to say none of the group matches will be easy and we will have to work hard in all the games although it always important not to lose the first game.”
Mafoso, who is also the Kick4Life head coach, told this publication that winning against Angola can go a long way towards a successful tournament.
“If we win the first match, it will help us go to the second game against Zimbabwe without any pressure. That’s the mentality we need but the first game at any tournament is always the most important one.
“I think getting a positive result in the first match will determine how we go about our business by the time we play the second game against Zimbabwe,” he said.
He admitted that there will be a lot of pressure on him to grind the results at the tournament after the team made it all the way to the final in last year’s edition of the tournament.
“Firstly, I think I have been given the responsibility to lead the team because the association believed in my abilities and that should be the most important factor I should draw inspiration from.
“If the players see me in high spirits it will surely rub onto them but I can tell that I have big shoes to fill as is the case at club level.
“The fact that the team reached the final in the previous year doesn’t make it easy but brings in a lot of expectation.
“Our opponents as well will surely take notice and prepare better when they play us but it’s something that should not get into our heads.
“We should hard as we did last year,” Mafoso said.
Makoanyane XI squad:
Goalkeepers: Jessy Matsie, Retšelisitsoe Marake
Defenders: Liteboho Nkune, Tuntu Moroahae, Lekhooa Khoete, Solomon Lejaha, Shali Lekhotla
Midfielders: Relebohile Thulo, Bonang Mohapi, Keketso Lipholo, Mzimukhulu Phantse, Batlang Mokhele, Tumelo Makha, Percy Mohani, Khemisi Maeza , Ts’okolo Nyamatane
Strikers: Sanele Phantse, Thaane Mokoena, Tšeliso Botsane