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Amajita coach hails local star

Teboho Molapo/Pascalinah Kabi

 MASERU — South Africa’s Under-20 coach Khabo Zondo has singled out Makoanyane XI striker Lehlomela Ramabele for praise after his goals helped Lesotho dump his side out of the Caf African Youth Championship last Sunday.

Amajita, as the South African youngsters are known, beat Lesotho 2-1 at Setsoto Stadium but Makoanyane XI still progressed to the final round of qualifying on a 3-2 aggregate.

In the end it was Ramabele who led Lesotho after he scored Makoanyane XI’s only goal on Sunday to add to his priceless brace in the first leg.

Zondo was impressed.

“The striker that you have . . . he has everything that is required,” he said referring to Ramabele after the match.

“He plays with good discipline and has good understanding with his teammates . . . if he gets an opportunity he gets a goal.”

Zondo also admitted South Africa had been surprised by Lesotho’s tactical awareness.

“I don’t think Lesotho has prepared like this before. I was told they had been in camp for two months and they put out a good team,” he said.

“We never thought that they were this strong.”

“I hope that they don’t just beat South Africa but they go to represent all the countries they have beaten at next year’s tournament,” he added.

Speaking to the Sunday Express on Monday, Makoanyane XI mentor Leslie Notši said his players had been overwhelmed by the occasion that drew an impressive turnout at the refurbished stadium.

Lesotho took the lead in the 22nd minute through the in-form Ramabele.

But sloppy defending allowed Sheldon Stevens to equalise for Amajita in the 44th minute.

Tshepo Gumede then added a second two minutes after the break to set up a nervy final 40 minutes.

“Our players haven’t played in front of such a large crowd before . . . you have to get used to playing in front of a crowd,” Notši said.

“In South Africa they played without any pressure.

“But the crowd still played a big role especially in the second half when we were under pressure.

“They kept singing and they made a difference.”

Notši said he was satisfied with his team’s progression even though he would have wanted a win on home soil.

“I have mixed feelings,” he said.

“But I’m very happy for the players.”

“I’m also happy that the crowd was happy,” he added. “It shows that maybe we are making a difference.”

Makoanyane XI will face Kenya in the final qualifying round for the tournament, to be staged in Libya next year.

The first leg will be played in Nairobi on the weekend of September 25-26 with the return leg in Maseru the following month.

Meanwhile, Makoanyane XI have been invited to take part in the Jose Eduardo dos Santos Four Nations tournament in Angola on August 26.

The tournament will involve Lesotho, South Africa, Mozambique and hosts Angola.

Notši’s side will start camp tomorrow before leaving for Luanda.

The Angola football tournament is staged every year to celebrate the birthday of Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos who was born on August 28 1942.

Under-20 team manager Khiba Mohoanyane told the Sunday Express the tournament was part of Lesotho’s preparations for Makoanyane XI’s match against Kenya next month.

“The purpose of this tournament is to honour the birthday of President Dos Santos but we are using it as part of our preparations for our match against Kenya sometime next month,” Mohoanyane said.

“Our team is ready to win this tournament as it will boost our confidence.”

Lesotho will be playing in the Angolan tournament for the second time after the local Under-20s finished third in the 2004 edition.

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