THE senior women’s national soccer team, Mehalalitoe, face Swaziland in a two-legged qualifier for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Ghana later this year.
Mehalalitoe host Swaziland in the first leg at Setsoto Stadium on 6 April with the return leg scheduled for a week later in Swaziland.
Mehalalitoe team manager, Lekhooa Thabaneng, said the team started their preparations from in February and so far, everything has gone according to plan although some of the players were still committed at their various posts while others are nursing injuries.
“Our preparations have gone well though we could not get all the players due to their work commitments but most have joined the team,” Thabaneng said.
“Since the start of this week we have almost all the players except those that are playing outside the country.”
He said the two players that are yet to join the squad are United States of America based and former Kick4Life Women team’s star, Senate Letsie, and Boitumelo Rabale of Bloemfontein Celtic.
Rabale, who captains the Celtic team, joins Mehalalitoe after another successful campaign at club level where she helped the Bloemfontein based side to a second South African Women’s Championship in a row.
“We are waiting for Rabale who is still nursing an injury and will join us at a later stage,” the team manager said.
“As for the US based Letsie, we are only expecting her in the last week of our preparations to complete a full squad. But we are happy with how things have gone so far and have lined-up a number of friendly games against South African teams to intensify our preparations.”
He said they would play against, among others, Celtic, who are the provincial and National Championship winners in South Africa, as well as the Mamelodi Sundowns ladies team.
“As part of our preparations we have scheduled matches against Celtic ladies and the Free State police team in Ficksburg before heading to Pretoria to play against Sundowns ladies,” he said.
He said the availability of the Women’s Super League in the country has made it easy for the coaches to come up with a strong squad.
“In the past, the coaches did not have this opportunity to select players from a league. We could only select players from high schools, but now the pool is bigger. Our performance at the regional COSAFA Cup was also improved based on the fact that our players now get regular competition in the league.
“Previously, in this competition we were the punching bags, but it was a different situation last year where we even managed to win one match out of the three.”
He showered praises on the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) for registering the team for the continental competition as it exposes women footballers to the highest level of the competition.
“We are grateful to the association and this is a chance for our female footballers to prove that we are ready to compete at international tournament.
“We are not scared of competition because now we even have players playing as far as America and in South Africa where they are performing well.
“So this is a great chance for women’s football to continue growing,” said Thabaneng.
If the Monaheng Montšo coached side goes past Swaziland, they face South Africa in the next round.