Mahlaha eyes COSAFA success

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Mikia Kalati

NATIONAL under-17 coach, Halemakale Mahlaha is confident of a good showing at the upcoming COSAFA Cup tournament scheduled for 19 to 29 July 20189 in Mauritius.

Lesotho are making their first appearance having missed the first two editions of the tournament.

Bahlabani, as the side is known in football circles, are in the same group as defending champions, Zambia and Mozambique and South Africa. They start their campaign against South Africa on July 20 2018.

Mahlaha admitted that he has a daunting task as his players are making their debut appearance in a foreign tournament.

The mentor recently helped Likhopo evade relegation from the Econet Premier League in playoffs against A Division sides Ketane and Lithabaneng Golden. They won both their games against the sides.

“I think the response has been very good so far and we are looking forward to the competition,” Mahlaha said.

“I have a group of dedicated boys who are happy to learn and become better players.”

Mahlaha said the mandate from the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) is for the players to get exposure and prepare for the bigger age groups as they will soon graduate into the under-20 team.

“Of course, it will be the first experience for most of the boys playing at this stage and the mandate from the association is to prepare them for the task ahead.

“Most of them came through the LeFA School of Excellence to the under-17 national team. We will not put them under pressure as we just want them to learn and also to have a competitive mentality.

“We know we have a tough group against experienced teams but we are confident that we will represent our country well,” he said.

THE Lesotho side this week played beat Botswana 0-1 in a preparatory friendly in Gaborone and Mahlaha said he was happy with the progress that his players have made.

“We got here on Sunday to play against Botswana as part of our preparations and we are happy that we won. Swaziland were also here to play Botswana in preparation for the same tournament.

“I am hopeful that the game has taken away stage fright from the boys and that is often dealt with through game time. I am sure they are ready for Mauritius,” Mahlaha said.

Mahlaha is assisted by Shalane Lehohla while former Matlama and Lioli goalminder, Isaiah Mosala, is the goalkeeper’s coach.

Bahlabani are hoping to emulate the senior team-Likuena, who came third in the regional tournament in South Africa in June.

Bahlabani COSAFA fixture

20 July 2017

Lesotho v South Africa-Auguste Vollaire Stadium

22 July 2018

Lesotho v Zambia Auguste Vollaire Stadium

24 July 2018

Lesotho v Mozambique- Auguste Vollaire Stadium

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