MASERU — Lesotho are almost assured of meeting South Africa in the next stage of the CAF Under-20 Youth Championship qualifiers after vanquishing Mozambique 6-1 in a preliminary round match on Sunday.
Looking at the way Mozambique capitulated at Setsoto Stadium it’s unimaginable that they will turn the tables on Lesotho in the return leg in Maputo next week.
The win is the biggest ever by the Mountain Kingdom in a competitive international match.
The record had been set 18 years ago by Likuena, the senior national team, when they thumped Botswana 4-0 in June 1992 in an African Nations Cup qualifier.
Likuena also hammered Swaziland 5-0 in April 2006, but it was only a friendly match.
The architect of Makoanyane XI’s emphatic win against Mozambique was Tsebang Lebata who scored a hat-trick.
The game itself had started off with a disjointed display by the hosts punctuated by misplaced passes and poor ball control.
Leslie Notši’s starting XI lacked cohesion with the selection of Matlama right-back Tšoanelo Koetle in midfield in particular failing to work in the first half.
Nevertheless Lesotho still took an early lead when speedster Lebata found the net in the fifth minute.
Lesotho however still failed to impose themselves and allowed a poor Mozambique side to creep back into the game by equalising in the 31st minute after a goalmouth scramble.
Indeed at half-time, with the scores level, it looked as if it would be a dark day for Lesotho.
But in the second half Makoanyane XI took advantage of the tiring visitors who were troubled by muscle cramps.
After another uninspired start to the half, Mozambique goalkeeper Valerio Macuacua failed to deal with a deeply floated corner-kick allowing midfielder Thabiso Mohapi to head into the net at the far post to give Lesotho a 2-1 lead just past the hour mark.
Another mistake by Mozambique’s defence six minutes later allowed Lebata to get his second goal of the game.
Lebata completed his hat-trick in the 74th minute, with Lehlomela Ramabele putting the game well beyond Mozambique when he struck three minutes later.
Jeremiah Kamela effectively sealed the match — and probably Lesotho’s passage to the next round — from the penalty spot in the last minute of regulation time.
“They did what was needed being the home leg,” former Likuena player Motlatsi Maseela remarked after the game.
“Sometimes you find that we only beat teams 1-0 at home and then away they would score more.”
Mozambique coach Torsten Spittler, who was also in charge of the country’s Under-17 side in another youth qualifier against Lesotho last week, said his charges had struggled to play on Setsoto’s artificial turf.
“We had a problem with the turf with the Under-17s last week,” he said.
“We trained with the Under-20s in Maputo three times (last) week, but that one is an older type (of artificial turf).
“This is new and very soft so it will cause muscle problems. It is like running on sand.”
Spittler admitted the second leg in Maputo next weekend was not going to be easy for Mozambique.
“It’s not every day that a Lesotho team can score six goals in a match,” he said.
TEAM: Kananelo Makhooane, Selborne Lekhooa, Motiki Mohale, Kopano Tseka, Basia Makepe (captain), Tšoanelo Koetle, Thabiso Mohapi, Tsebang Lebata, Jeremiah Kamela, Litšepe Marabe, Lehlomela Ramabele.