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Lesotho netball team eye World Cup



Luciah Phahla


Lesotho Under-21 netball coach Khauhelo Mokapela says his side isn’t going to the Africa Youth World Cup qualifiers in Botswana just to make up the numbers.

Starting Saturday, Lesotho will be one of nine nations competing at the week-long qualifying championship and, speaking at a farewell conference yesterday, Mokapela insisted his charges are aiming to secure one of the three available tickets for next year’s Netball World Youth Cup.

“Our main expectation is to qualify for the World Cup and we are not going there to add numbers but to compete,” Mokapela said at the gathering held at the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission’s headquarters in Maseru.

As the hosts of the 2017 World Youth Cup, Botswana has already qualified meaning only three of Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe will join them at next August’s global showpiece.

With the margin for error so thin, Mokapela’s girls have to get off to a positive start when they launch their quest against continental giants Malawi on Sunday.

The championships will also present a unique physical challenge to the side.

After facing Malawi, Lesotho will then battle hosts Botswana later the same day before playing seven games over the following six days.

Mokapela, however, maintained his young guns are mentally ready for the test ahead.

“We have about four players who will not be playing in the games for the first time. They have been talking to some of the (new) players helping them prepare mentally because sometimes it is easy for players to understand their peers well,” he said.

“We have also been playing some friendly matches as part of our preparation. We are up against eight teams; Malawi and South Africa are quite strong teams,” he added.

Mokapela also highlighted the experience his players will gain saying it will stand them and the local game in good stead.

“I want to see netball grow in the country. These players are going to make an impact in their own teams when they come back. They will gain experience from the qualifiers,” he said.

At the end of the ceremony Team Lesotho was presented a kit by their official sponsor for the tournament, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC).

Lesotho Netball Association (LNA) secretary general ‘Mathabe Majara thanked KFC and other stakeholders that helped in the team’s preparations.

“We would like to thank KFC for giving us a positive response among all the companies that we went to asking for help. We are very grateful,” she said. “After we received the invitation for the World Cup qualifiers we realised we did not have in enough money and we had to find alternatives.”

Majara continued: “We would like to thank the parents of these players for allowing them to be here. Some of these players were selected from the league clubs while some are from (Lesotho Institution of Secondary Schools) games.”

In total, KFC spent an estimated M44 000 on the team’s attire and its general manager Makhaola Koebe said the backing was part of KFC’s drive to uplift youth through sport.

“I wish the team good luck and I hope they will come with a win. You have our support. We will continue to give back to the community and this is part of our social responsibility,” he said.

Last Friday, Mokapela selected a final 12-player squad for the Botswana qualifiers. They left yesterday evening hoping to create their own piece of history.

The final 12 players selected:

Tseleng Molefi

Mpeooane Maisa

Moliehi Motumi

Liteboho Mokone

Kefuoe Mokatane

Liketso ‘Neko

Boemo Lebesa

Libuseng Adoro

Paballo Rannetla

Mirriam Phamotse

Ntsoaki Matsoakeletse

Mookho Mosele

Lesotho’s Africa Qualifiers fixtures:

Sunday, July 24

Lesotho vs. Malawi

Botswana vs. Lesotho

Monday, July 25

Lesotho vs. South Africa

Tuesday, July 26

Lesotho vs. Zimbabwe

Wednesday, July 27

Lesotho vs. Zambia

Lesotho vs. Uganda

Thursday, July 28

Lesotho vs. Namibia

Saturday, July 30

Lesotho vs. Swaziland

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