By: Sekonyela Qaitsane

Maseru – Following a remarkable tournament in the last edition, Leslie Nots’i-led Likuena will surely want to take another shot at the prestigious regional trophy, and on paper, they have a chance to make it out of the group stages if their record against their three group opponents is to go by.

Lesotho will enter this year’s edition high in confidence as the recent runners-up.

Another source of their steam will, without a doubt, be their outstanding performances in the 2026 World Cup African qualifiers, which saw them at one stage leading group comprising African giants like Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

The 2024 COSAFA CUP draw took place on Friday morning and is set to take place from June 26th to July 7th in South Africa.

There are three groups of four, with group B comprising the guest nation, Senegal. In total, there are only 11 regional countries partaking in the 23rd edition of the tournament, out of 16.

According to the COSAFA website, Madagascar and Mauritius are the two nations that have opted not to compete this year.

The 2000 and 2023 finalists, Lesotho, are in Group C along with three-time Champions Angola, one-time Champions Namibia, and Seychelles, who are the least favored in the group having not played the decider before.

Despite never tasting the triumph in this tournament, Lesotho have a good head-to-head record against their superior opponents.

Likuena have played Angola seven times in this tournament, coming out victorious on three occasions, while Angola won four.

They have rather been dominant against their other two, having won twice and lost only once against Namibia in their four COSAFA meetings.

According to available records, Lesotho has never played Seychelles in this tourment and will do so for the first time in this year’s edition.

However, the two nations have met on four occasions, with Lesotho coming on top twice and losing only once when the spoils were shared in the other encounter. With all the factors taken into account, it is safe to predict that Group C will be won by the most determined and not by the virtue of dominance.

The format will again see 12 teams take part, split into three groups of four sides, with the three pool winners and the best runner-up advancing to the semi-finals.

The competition will give players and coaches vital game time ahead of the qualifiers for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations finals that are expected to be staged later this year.

Only five nations can claim to have lifted the coveted trophy. Zambia went back-to-back in 2023 and now sits at the top of the list of most titles with seven.

That is one more than Zimbabwe, with South Africa (five), Angola (three), and Namibia (one) the only other teams to claim regional glory.

Mozambique, Malawi, Botswana, and Lesotho have all been finalists twice but ended up on the losing side on both occasions. Guest nation Senegal is the only other national to reach the decider but lost to South Africa in 2021.

Group A comprises the hosts, South Africa, Mozambique, eSwatini, and Botswana, while the champions, Zambia, will have to overcome Senegal, Comoros, and Zimbabwe in Group B.