Mehalalitoe battle-ready

Mehalalitoe battle-ready

MASERU-Lesotho women’s national head coach Lehloenya Nkhasi says his team is ready for the 2020 COSAFA Women’s Championship which will be held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, next week.

Mehalalitoe leave the country on Saturday and Nkhasi was speaking at a press conference yesterday where he announced his final squad for the regional showpiece.
Lesotho has been pitted in Group B against Malawi and last year’s runners’ up, Zambia.

Nkhasi said his side know they are in a tough group but are not going to Nelson Mandela Bay to add numbers.
Mehalalitoe’s final squad is dominated by Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) players with no players from other local teams making the cut except foreign-based players.

Nkhasi was unveiled as Mehalalitoe coach last week after leading LDF to three successive Women’s Super League titles.
He said his technical team considered the players’ performance in training when picking the final squad, which was whittled down from 29 players to a final list of 19 after two weeks of training.

Nkhasi said LDF players were in better physical shape because they have been training over the past month while other clubs have not.
“We did not only call LDF (players), we called a provisional squad of players that were from other clubs,” Nkhasi said.
“Although it looks like LDF dominates (the squad) we were looking at the performance. There are players who are in training with LDF and physically they are already in an advantageous position perhaps more than a player who was at home. They are giving us something better because of limited time we will not be dealing with physicality; we have had few weeks to prepare.”

Nkhasi said the final squad is balanced because there are players that can fill in multiple positions if needed.
“We selected a balanced team because, like I said, we have utility players (and) skilful players,” Nkhasi said.
“We tried to balance the team. We had a provisional squad where we assessed everyone to give us what we want, because we don’t have time. So tactically, mentally, physically and technically we tried to get players who are close to what we want,” he added.

Nkhasi said Mehalalitoe’s preparations have been difficult because of a lack friendly games outside the country because of COVID-19 restrictions.
He said the team have been playing friendly matches against local men’s team around Maseru to put the side to the test.
Although Lesotho is in a tough group, Nkhasi said Mehalalitoe are in an advantageous position because they are a closed book.

He said his side can plan for games knowing who they are playing against while the opposition don’t know what to expect from Mehalalitoe.
“It is a tough group, Malawi got to the semi-finals (of the tournament last year). It tells you that they have a good team but we are a good team, too,” Nkhasi said.

“We are ready for them, I think we are a closed chapter (compared to) them. We will plan. We have a task at hand, we know them, they don’t know us; we are a new team.”
This year the COSAFA Women’s Championship is made up of 10 teams which have been split into one group containing four sides, and two with three. Only the top team in each pool and the best-placed runner-up from the three groups will advance to the semi-finals.

Lesotho open their campaign next Wednesday against Zambia before what could be a group decider against Malawi next Saturday. Both games will be played at Wolfson Stadium.
Mehalalitoe squad:
Goalkeepers: Thuto Maifo (Metheo Ladies, RSA), Boitumelo Nkeane (Grasslands Ladies, RSA)
Defenders: Mosili Motšoeneng (Bloemfotein Celtic, RSA), Montšeng Matete (Semunye Ladies, RSA), ‘Mamoruti Ntsiki, Lerato Kheme, Tšoanelo Leboka, Ntsatsi Khakanyo (all LDF)
Midfielders: Boitumelo Rabale (Lewis and Clark College, USA), ‘Maseriti Mohlolo, Palesa Mpeta, Ntšabeng Pelea, ‘Mamasoabi Monese, Mosele Pita (all LDF)
Strikers: Senate Letsie (Columbia College, USA), Litšeoane Maloro (Bloemfontein Celtic), Kholu Lebakeng, Phuzile Molefe, Nthabeleng Potsane (all LDF)

Tlalane Phahla

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