KUDOS to Makoanyane XI who reached their first Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup under-20 final in 13 years by beating tournament guests, Uganda, 5-6 on penalties in a semifinal played on Thursday.
This was after the national junior side finished on top of Group C which featured pre-tournament favorites, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
The Leslie Notši-coached outfit began their campaign with a goalless stalemate against Zimbabwe before fighting back from a goal down to beat Namibia 2-1. They were also a man down after Relebohile Mabone was shown a red card for a careless tackle.
They also played well to hold Angola to a goalless draw in the last match of the group stages before the semi-final clash with Uganda.
Well done to the boys.
For a long time one of the biggest obstacles to our progress in football has been the lack of clear transitional programmes from the junior to the senior Likuena national team.
I hope this time around the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) will keep this group intact and do everything to ensure its progression to the senior side.
Lesotho has generally had very good under-20 teams as shown by the side that first reached the COSAFA final in 1990. There was also the Seephephe Matete-coached team that qualified for the Africa Youth Championship in 2005 and also reached COSAFA final the same year before losing out to Madagascar. There was also another group coached by Notši which qualified for the Africa Youth Championship in 2011.
We all hoped that those groups would graduate into the senior side and do well but unfortunately only a handful of those young players ever made it into the Likuena side.
The reason is that there is a gap between the under 20 and senior team which could be bridged by having an under-23 side.
I watched the match against Namibia where the boys fought hard to win and I was very touched to see their high levels of commitment even after conceding when they were a man down.
LeFA must revive the national under-23 side in order to keep this team together before they ultimately progress to the Likuena set-up.
The international exposure our boys get from participating in such tournaments is invaluable but we are bound to lose our talent and momentum without clear structures to facilitate the smooth progression of our players.
Before I conclude I want to take the opportunity to wish all of my loyal readers a merry Christmas and prosperous New Year in advance as this is my last column of the year.
It has been a great journey since January and I hope to see you all again next year. Let us go out and enjoy responsibly while also spending quality time with our families.
I hope 2018 will be a year like no other for all of us and we will get to see momentous, positive changes in terms of the overall socio-economic and political development of our country as well as in our personal lives.