Why Mehalalitoe were hammered

Why Mehalalitoe were hammered

MASERU-Lesotho national women’s captain, Senate Letsie, has opened up about Mehalalitoe’s disastrous campaign in the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship last month where Lesotho lost all their games with heavy scores.

Letsie admitted the gap in quality between Mehalalitoe and their opponents was obvious.
Lesotho was pitted in a group with Malawi and Zambia and lost 8-0 and 9-0 respectively against their opponents.
Malawi and Zambia started their preparatory training camps months before the tournament and both countries continued to monitor players individually during lockdown through training materials they were given.

That was not the case for Mehalalitoe who became the first Lesotho national team to return to action after seven months of no football activity in the country.
Mehalalitoe only had a week to camp and they were clearly undone by poor preparations.

Before the team left for South Africa some members of their squad also had to withdraw after they tested positive for Covid-19.
Letsie, who played both group games in Wolfson Stadium, admitted it was a poor showing by Mehalalitoe and she acknowledged that a lack of good preparations played its part in the team’s humiliation.
Letsie, who plays her football in the United States, said that as the leader of the team, she and other senior players tried to step up and motivate their teammates to make sure nobody doubted themselves.

“It was not a good a performance and as part of the captains we were talking with players motivating them saying that as much as the results are bad, they were expected,” Letsie said.
“The teams we played were better than us, they prepared better than us, they had been in camp way before us and we only had a week in camp. They had better support than us,” she added.
Mehalalitoe’s performance was criticised but there was still a feeling that seven months of no competitive football contributed to their drubbing in Port Elizabeth.

Letsie is one of the most experienced players in the side and a leader of the team.
She said she feels the responsibility of leading the team and letting other players learn from her.
It is what she did before she got the opportunity to move to the US in 2017 and that responsibility has only increased now because everyone is looking up to her.

Letsie said that while she enjoyed playing in the local Women’s Super League and loves representing her country, she admitted she saw another level to the game in the United States.
Letsie moved to Lewis & Clark College on a football scholarship after excelling at Kick4Life which allowed her to continue her education and pursue a career overseas.

She said the smallest things, such as having your own locker, can go a long way in motivating players.
Players also have training shoes for their everyday training and are always kitted out and looking presentable.

Letsie said these are small things but are a long way from happening in Lesotho and it is not only because of finances but a lack of proper infrastructure.
For a speedy player like Letsie adapting to the US was not a problem and she said when she arrived, she fitted right in and had the support of her teammates.

Her first impression of the US for her was happiness and the ability to play lots of games. She said she is a better player now than she was before she left Lesotho.
“I am now more composed, I have a better understanding and reading of the game now, it has definitely made me a better player,” Letsie said.

“When I arrived, I was just happy that you get to play lots of games and that is a motivation. There are small things that motivate you like having your own locker, you have training shoes and look like other players,” she said.
While the local women’s football is making small developments such as increasing the clubs in the Women’s Super League while some clubs now have development teams, there is still a long way to go.
The US is renowned for having some of the best female footballers in the world and their development of players is second to none.

The US has won the women’s FIFA World Cup a record four times and Letsie could not stop talking about how the US cares and rates women’s football.
“I would say we are stagnant in one place (in Lesotho) because some of the things we complained about five years ago are still an issue,” Letsie said.
“I know there are developments here and there, now the teams have increased in the super league and some clubs have development teams, but the US is at another level,” she said.

The Mehalalitoe captain has not played club football in over a year and she said has lost a lot of football time due to the pandemic.
Letsie is still in the country and is expected to return to the US when it is safe to do so because she is still studying.

Tlalane Phahla

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