Mehalalitoe fall to South Africa

Mehalalitoe fall to South Africa

Maseru – Lesotho will have to overcome a 1-0 deficit if it is qualify for its first CAF Africa Women Cup of Nations (AFCON) after a narrow defeat to South Africa in yesterday’s first leg in Maseru. The first leg of the second round qualifier was played at Setsoto Stadium and the return is set for Saturday in Bloemfontein.

Mehalalitoe are bidding to reach the country’s first major senior international tournament and advanced the final qualifying stage after beating Swaziland 3-1 over two legs in March. The 2018 Women’s AFCON will be played in November and December in Ghana.

Despite being drawn against one of the continent’s women’s football powerhouses in South Africa, Monaheng Montšo and her charges remained confident of pulling off an upset after solid preparations that included friendly games against professional teams across the border. However, Lesotho got off to the worst possible start at Setsoto when Banyana Banyana midfielder Leandra Smeda scored within the first ten minutes.

Mehalalitoe felt aggrieved after they thought striker Senate Letsie was fouled in the buildup to Smeda’s goal. South Africa stayed on the front foot in the opening half but Mehalalitoe goalkeeper Nkeane Boitumelo Nkeane made several telling saves from Smeda to keep Lesotho in the game.

Mehalalitoe started the second half better than the first after Montšo made changes by bringing in Lebakeng Kholu for Molefe Phuzile and Akhente Relebohile for Moloro Litšeoana. The substitutions worked as Lesotho began to show more attacking intent. However, try as they might, the home side was unable to find an equaliser giving Mehalalitoe a mountain to climb in Saturday’s second leg.

“That early goal demotivated us a lot and we ended up losing focus,” Lesotho coach Montšo said afterwards. “We played well and I am satisfied with our entire performance,” he added. “We are going to correct our mistakes and fight (in the second leg).” Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis insisted the tie is still alive. “We have some work to do though in terms of attacking and defence,” she said.

“This match was not a walk in the park because Lesotho also brought their all as a football team.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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