Lesotho . . . . . .(0) 0
Egypt . . . . . . . .(0) 2
DOBSONVILLE — The first half was almost perfect, 0-0 at halftime against Egypt was in anyone’s books an acceptable score-line.
The shape of Leslie Notši’s team during the first half was first-rate, keeping Egypt at bay and forcing the talented North Africans to hit the ball long in their quest for goals.
The transition game from defence to attack that has been the Makoanyane XI’s strong point over the past 12 months was also in evidence during the opening half, sporadically threatening to stun their more fancied opponents.
But by fulltime everything had changed, 2-0 the final score and a sense of what could have been after a sloppy and uninspiring second half performance epitomised by two soft goals.
Before the championships began Makoanyane XI mentor Notši spoke about his side’s inability due to Lesotho’s amateur status to maintain the same level of performance for a whole 90 minutes.
A case in point was the side’s practice match against Saudi Arabia in March in which Lesotho took the lead before succumbing to a 3-1 loss.
Against Egypt it was the same story as Lesotho struggled and faded badly in the second half.
Other ills of the local game were also brutally exposed.
Lesotho’s players are simply poor in handling crosses and high balls and this is where Egypt’s opening goal came from, just a minute after a promising halftime break.
The timing of the goal, so early in the second half, was as deflating as its nature.
From a simple corner-kick Lesotho twice dismally failed to clear its lines allowing the tallest player on the field, defender Ahmed Hegazi, to rise above a dazed defence to head in for Egypt.
The response that might have been expected or least hoped for was not forthcoming.
Instead the Makoanyane XI were unable to get out of their half.
Pressured, Lesotho almost gave their opponents a gift in the 61st minute when sloppy play between Kopano Tseka and Salebone Lekhooa let in Egypt striker Mohamed Zaky through on goal, however Kananelo Makhooane redeemed his earlier indecision to pull off the save of the tournament thus far.
Still Egypt were coming with fleet-footed left-winger Mohamed Ghaly in particular having a field day against Lekhooa.
In the 66th minute another cheap give-away of possession allowed Ghaly a clean run-in on goal that was only halted by a rash tackle inside the box by Tseka. Ghaly stepped up to coolly slot the penalty and effectively the seal the game for Egypt.
Notši had started with the expected side with Bloemfontein Celtics Academy player Sepiriti Malefane coming into central midfield for the suspended Tšoanelo Koetle while Jeremia Kamele’s move to left-back opened the way for in-form Montoeli Sonopo to slot in on the left flank.
Lesotho initially equipped themselves well, poking at the giant while keeping their backdoor shut.
But after Egypt took a second half lead Notši was guilty of not making changes either in personnel or system. Attacking options such as Lekhanya Lekhanya remained unused on the bench and Lesotho’s challenge meekly petered out.
His players also simply ran out of steam against a well-drilled and technically accomplished Egypt side.
The terrible, boggy pitch at the Dobsonville Stadium also didn’t help matters but in this day and age an amateur is rarely likely to ever upstage a seasoned professional.