LESOTHO’S national under-17 side, Bahlabani, were on Tuesday eliminated from the COSAFA Cup in Mauritius after being edged 2-1 by Mozambique.
The match was their second group stage loss after they were also beaten by 1-0 Zambia on Sunday. The side leaves the tournament without a win after they drew with South Africa in their first group game on 19 July 2018.
Bahlabani needed a win against Mozambique to entertain hopes of proceeding to the next stage of the tournament. However, it will be South Africa and Mozambique who proceed to the next stage after Amajimbos beat defending champions Zambia 2-1 in their last group match.
They started the tournament with a goalless draw against South Africa before losing 1-0 to defending champions Zambia and needed a win in their last match against Mozambique to stand any chance of making it to the next round of the tournament.
Kananelo Rapuleng scored the team’s only goal at the tournament in the loss against Mozambique.
Coach Halemakale Mahlaha told the Lesotho Times that the team has been haunted by the chances that they missed in the game against Zambia.
Mahlaha said they easily could have done better against Zambia after they started positively against South Africa.
“I think the chances that we missed against Zambia have back to haunt us,” Mahlaha said.
“We missed a lot of good chances against Zambia and had we converted them, they would have helped us proceed. We missed three very good chances when the goalkeeper had already been beaten but our players failed to connect.
“It hurt even more when we conceded in the 89th minute to lose the game 1-0. Football can be heart-breaking.”
After the loss to Mozambique in their final group game, Mahlaha said the exit the tournament with their heads held up high because they competed well in all the three matches.
He said he was proud of his charges despite the group stage elimination.
Mahlaha said the team that made their debut appearance at the tournament took immense lessons and also gained exposure from the tournament.
“It was a very good journey for us, just that we gave away an early goal in the last match. We did not start the match well and paid for it with early goals.
“But we adjusted well afterwards and competed better in the second half though we lost. I am proud of the boys,” Mahlaha said.