By Khosi Pheko
Lesotho’s national women football team aspirations of reaching the semi- finals of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Women’s Championship currently on-going at Johannesburg, South Africa are all but shattered.
This is after Mehalitoe as the team is affectionately known registered two consecutive losses with the first one being a 1:0 loss to Zimbabwe at the Lucas Moripe on Friday, while their recent defeat came in the hands of Botswana who walloped them 3:0 on Monday at Dobsonville Stadium courtesy of goals from Lone Gaofetoge and Balothanyi Johannes in the first half, while captain Kesegofetse Mochawe rounded the scoring in the second half.
The two losses leave Lesotho rooted at the bottom of Group C without a single point and are mathematically out of the competition with a match to spare against Namibia today (Wednesday) at University of Johannesburg (UJ) stadium at 15:30 pm. This early exit also means that, Mehalalitoe will have nothing but pride to play for against Namibia while the top position remains for grabs for current leaders Zimbabwe who are sitting with six points and will play against Botswana who are currently on four points as both sides will be vying for a spot in the semi- finals.
In this year’s edition, expectations were that Lesotho would at least go beyond the group stages after failing to do so in previous editions however, this seems to be an elusive task since the ladies team has never reached beyond the group stages of this championship. As if this is enough, Mehallitoe is also yet to score a goal in this year’s campaign and this can be attributed to the absence of their star captain Boitumelo Rabale. Rabale currently plays for South African powerhouse, Mamelodi Sundown’s Ladies. The lethal midfielder was denied permission to join the national team by her current club which is currently competing in South Africa’s Women’s premier football league dubbed the Hollywood bets Super League.
While addressing Lesotho’s media digitally in Johannesburg on Monday after Botswana’s loss, head coach Pule Khojane hailed the team’s hard work and commitment, he emphasized that the ladies were determined to fight back even though the match was difficult. Khojane said it is unfortunate that they are yet to register a goal while in contrast they are also unfortunate to have conceded goals in that fashion.
“According to me they scored too early and they put too much pressure on us because we were not expecting that. We wanted to score early but they were the ones that scored early, they scored a goal from a standard situation which was a corner and I will not say anything about it. But what I can say is the two goals that they scored , I think were lucky goals because they were determined to be crossed so I think it was bad for us,” he said.
Khojane further stressed that Botswana‘s superiority against Mehalalitoe can also be attributed by their regular participation in international competitions and that gives them an edge over Lesotho. He further stated that, although they are technically out of the competition, they are determined to get the three points as they bid farewell to this year’s edition against Namibia on Wednesday.
“We played Zimbabwe which has not participated in this tournament for some time and we just played Botswana which plays Confederation of African Football (CAF) games and this makes them better than we are. Going into the last game, as much as we are out, we need to leave here with the three points and we are going to fight for them before we leave”, Khojane said.