Mehalalitoe to name squad

NTHAKO MAJORO

MASERU - Lesotho will before the end of this week name the final squad that will compete at the upcoming COSAFA Women’s Championship scheduled for Port Elizabeth in Mandela Bay, South Africa from September 12 to 22. Mehalalitoe, as the national women’s senior football team is called, have been drawn against African powerhouses comprising Zambia, Cameroon and Mozambique in Group B.

Cameroon, who are in the competition by invitation, are ranked third on the African continent after Nigeria and Ghana. At position 48 in the world, Cameroon will be the highest ranked side in the 2018 COSAFA Women Championship. Mehalalitoe’s coach Monaheng Montšo was, however, not intimidated by the fact that his charges were drawn in the same group with some of Africa’s strongest footballing nations.

“We are ready for the challenge facing us,” said Montšo in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday after the announcement of the draw. “This is how the draw occurred and one can never know which teams to play until after the draw. We were expecting to be drawn against any team,” he said.

Both Mehalalitoe’s captain Boitumelo Rabale and star player Senate Letsie will, however, not make the final squad to the tourney. The two players who are studying in the United States through soccer scholarships will be tied up with their respective studies when the regional tournament kicks off in South Africa in less than a fortnight from now.

“We want the two players to focus on their studies as they only left for the States recently,” said Thabaneng in an interview with Public Eye on Wednesday this week. Letsie began her studies in the US in August last year, while Rabale started hers early this month (August).

Because of the key roles both footballers play in the squad, their presence will be greatly missed. Their coach, (Montšo) also admitted that the two’s absence will definitely have a negative impact on the team’s overall performance in the tournament. “Their absence is a serious challenge on our part but the team unfortunately has to make do without them,” he said.

He noted that they have already played a number of friendly games without Rabale and Letsie’s services, adding that has helped the team to improvise in the pair’s absence. Mehalalitoe beat two Sasol League campaigners, Semunye and Comtech in Bloemfontein, South Africa two weeks ago.

In the first game they hammered Semunye 3-0 before thrashing Comtech 5-1 in another match. But the team lost 5-0 and 2-0 against Botswana last weekend away from home.Despite the two defeats, Montšo said they achieved and learned a lot from both games.

“Though we lost the two matches against Botswana we, however, maintained good ball possession which is what we were looking for,” he said. Zimbabwe, Namibia, Uganda and Swaziland are in Group C, while defending champions South Africa are in Group A together with Botswana, Madagascar and Malawi. Winners from each group will qualify for the semi-finals along with the best-placed team.

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