Mehalalitoe, eSwatini square off

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Leemisa Thuseho

MEHALALITOE will embark on their 2022 COSAFA Women’s Championship campaign by taking on eSwatini today at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The two nations will face off for the first time since 2018. That year, they clashed during the African Women Championships qualifiers in which Lesotho beat eSwatini 1-0 at home and 2-1 away.

Mehalalitoe are hoping to mark their return to international competitions in style after a one-year break. They last competed in this tournament was in 2020.

Ahead of today’s game, Pule Khojane said he was expecting a balanced encounter indicating the two sides had brought a mixture of young and experienced players to the tournament.

“I have noticed that eSwatini have a mixture of experienced and inexperienced players like ourselves,” Khojane said.

“Therefore, I am expecting a balanced match. We are ready to make them run for their money.

“No matter what they bring into the game, our only focus is to work hard and get three points.”

Morale is high in his camp, and he is confident that their chances will be good.

In their next Group B match, they will lock horns with Zambia on Sunday before taking on Namibia next Tuesday.

Mehalalitoe are hoping for better results this time around as they they have failed to go past the group stage of the tournament since their first appearance in 2002.

In their maiden competition in 2002 they lost 15-0 in their opener to Zimbabwe. That was followed by a 3-0 defeat to Malawi and a 3-1 loss to Zambia.

It didn’t get any better in 2006 as they lost 9-0 to South Africa and 3-0 to Malawi in a three-team group.

They were close to a semifinal qualification in 2011 when they beat Mozambique 3-2 but lost to Malawi in their play-off decider.

In 2017, they claimed a fine 2-1 win over Namibia in pool play but lost to South Africa and Botswana, both by a 3-0 score line.

Mehalalitoe returned in 2018 but lost all three matches, going down 2-0 to Zambia, 2-1 to Mozambique and 6-0 to Cameroon.

After skipping the 2019 tournament, the side was back in 2020 but again lost both their group stage matches 8-0 to Zambia and 9-0 to Malawi.

Last year the team was not enrolled for the tournament.

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