MASERU — The principal secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation Makalo Theko has hailed Lesotho’s under-20 team for their stunning victory against South Africa last Saturday.
Makoanyane XI, as the team is popularly known, beat South Africa 2-0 in a Caf Under-20 Championship qualifier in Gauteng last Saturday.
Speaking on behalf of the sports ministry this week, Theko expressed delight at the performance.
“As a ministry we are very delighted,” Theko told the Sunday Express on Wednesday.
“We are in full support of the Lesotho Football Association (Lefa) in terms of its stated intention of rebuilding the national team, starting with the youth sides,” he added.
“Clearly this is the beginning, we hope, of good things particularly given that both the under-17 and under-20 sides did well in the previous (qualifying) round. We hope they continue in the same vein.”
Makoanyane XI face South Africa in the return leg at Setsoto Stadium next Sunday and Theko urged the team to remain focused.
“We should boost the morale of the players by supporting them. But they should also maintain discipline and focus. Both the players and the administrators need to maintain their discipline,” Theko said.
In a separate interview with the Sunday Express Makoanyane XI coach Leslie Notši also called for caution, insisting that “the job was not done yet”.
The first leg result — a 2-0 success powered by a brace from Lehlomela Ramabele — means Makoanyane XI only need to avoid defeat to progress to the second and final qualifying round.
Notši said the first leg result would mean nothing if it is not backed up by progress to the next round.
We are expecting a tough return-leg, he said.
“The expectation is now high from Basotho after our win (but) at the same time when the South Africans come here they will be like wounded tigers. So we have to prepare like we have done before. They are not an easy team to beat,” Notši said.
Notši also had praises for his team.
“They are maturing. They absorbed the pressure that the opponents gave and both goals came as we had planned. What I am most happy about is that they stuck to our instructions,” Notši said.
Regarding the impressive 2-0 result Notši said: “It has made a mark. But it’s not a victory for one person. So far we have been working as unit with the Lefa executive, the technical team and the players. We can look back now and say it’s a good achievement but we still have more work to do.”
So far 2010 has been a fine year for the Makoanyane XI and if they beat South Africa their next opponents will most likely be Kenya who beat Sudan 1-0 away from home in their qualifying tie.
The Caf Under-20 Championship will be played in Libya next March.
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