THIS year's Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women's Champions League Council of Southern Africa Football Association (COSAFA) qualifiers are likely to be more difficult for the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) Ladies.
Aug. 18, 2023
6 min read
Tough draw for LDF Ladies
The LDF Ladies Football Clubs squad
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The army side is pitted against Green Buffaloes of Zambia, Double Action Ladies of Botswana and Ntopwa FC of Malawi in Group A.
The upcoming CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifiers will take place in Durban, South Africa, from August 30 – September 8.
The LDF Ladies encountered more difficulty at the tournament's inaugural edition in 2021 after missing the qualifiers the previous year because they had failed to register for the event.
The Lesotho champions were hammered 6-0 by both Sundowns Ladies and Double Action Ladies each, and drew 1-1 with Manzini Wanderers of eSwatini.
Football analysts say the LDF Ladies are still going to be the whipping girls, due to lack of enough international exposure and poor standard of the country’s women’s football league compared to other leagues in the region, amongst other things.
“It is still going to be tough for them because our local league (Lesotho Women’ Super League) is not comparatively competitive,” said former Lesotho senior women’s national team (Mehalalitoe) goalkeepers’ coach, Tšepo Mathetha.
“They would first need to play more international matches in order to gain exposure and experience.”
Mathetha said, just like Mehalalitoe, who are also preparing for the COSAFA Women’s Championship, the LDF Ladies will just be gathering experience rather than competing for the CAF Women’s Champions League qualification.
Former Mehalalitoe and LDF Ladies head coach, Lehloenya Nkhasi, shared the similar sentiments with Mathetha.
“It is going to be tough for them because teams have prepared better than last term, and they have added some new faces in their respective structures,” he said.
“Last season (2021) was a maiden challenge for LDF with a new coach at the helm. This time, there are no excuses, since the team has been together and done well in the league, and therefore so much is expected of them.”
Nkhasi said the LDF Ladies have tried to beef up their squad by signing former Bantu Ladies defender, Thato Mapepesa, amongst others.
But he said the rest were still the same players, who played at the 2021 CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifiers.
“They have added former Massive Ladies Goalkeeper, ’Mamakhabane Makibinyane and Bantu Ladies’ player, Thato Mapepesa. Otherwise, the line-up is still the same.”
Nkhasi said, among the LDF Ladies opponents at the upcoming CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifiers, Green Buffaloes will be their toughest ones, since most of their players were part of the Copper Queens (Zambia Women's Senior National Team), doing national duty at the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Most the players that Nkhasi talked about, were regulars for the Copper Queens at the World Cup.
“On top of that, Green Buffaloes have just acquired the services of the Copper Queens duo of Comfort Selemani and Xiomara Mapepa, as well as the Malawian defender, Chimwemwe Madise, on a short loan deal.”
Nkhasi further said: “On the other hand, Ntompwa are the champs of Malawi and new kids on the block.”
“They are no pushovers, but I do not see them causing an upset against LDF.”
The former army side mentor, said Ntopwa were in Mozambique last month to intensify their preparation for the competition.
He said, it is now up to the LDF Ladies Coach and his Technical Team to plan accordingly.
"What I have discovered is that they are an offensive side with a lot of speed upfront, led by Memory Chedisa and Yamikani Mhlongo,” he said.
Nkhasi said, it is also going to be tough for the LDF Ladies against Double Action Ladies.
“As for the Double Action, it is going to be rough and tough for the Lesotho girls, since that team is well structured with a lot of talent at their disposal.
“I think the LDF team will win against Ntopwa and struggle against both Double Action and Buffaloes, but this is football. A team that has prepared well will proceed to the next stage of the competition.”
Former Lesotho Women’ Super League chairman, Chris Bullock, also shared the same sentiments with both Mathetha and Nkhasi.
“It’s obviously going to be a very tough test for LDF," he said.
“We have seen, how far women’s football has grown on the continent, just through this ongoing Women’s World Cup.
Bullock said Zambia won their debut FIFA Women’s World Cup game when they beat Costa Rica 3-1 after 5-1nil losses to both Japan and Germany, which suggests that women’s football is improving in Zambia.
He also said the top goal-scorer in Italy’s Women’s Serie A, Tabitha Chawinga, comes from Malawi, adding that the Malawi national team has always been tough opponents to play against.
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Chawinga scored 23 goals from 21 matches for Inter Milan in the last season.
On the other hand, Bullock said Double Action Ladies will also be tough foes for the LDF Ladies.
“Double Action are predominantly made up of Botswana national team players, so I expect the competition to be stronger than two years ago, when LDF last played there.
“Having said that, hopefully LDF have learnt from their last experience and many of their players have continued to gain further international exposure with the national team.”
Bullock, who is also the former Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) Deputy Secretary General, reiterated that with the way the women’s game had improved, the only way the Lesotho teams can be able to compete in such tournaments will be to play in as many competitions as possible, for them to gain international exposure.
“So I am very happy that the LDF Ladies have been given the opportunity to participate in this competition, and hopefully they will give good account of themselves,” he said.
Most of the LDF Ladies players are in the senior women’s national team, Mehalalitoe, preparing for the upcoming COSAFA Women’s Championship, which is set to take place in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from September 14 – 24.
Sundowns Ladies, who became the first team in history to win the CAF Women’s Champions League in 2021, have been pitted against Olympic de Moroni of the Comoros, Costa do Sol of Mozambique and Young Buffaloes of Eswatini in Group B of this year’s CAF Women’s Champions League COSAFA qualifiers.
The Hollywoodbets Women’ Super League Champions again reached the final of the 2022 Champions League, but lost to AS FAR of Morocco.