A star is born at the COSAFA Castle Cup – Lehlohonolo Seema

Lehlohonolo Seema has been a stalwart of the COSAFA Castle Cup and played for Lesotho between 1998 and 2008 in the regional showpiece competition.

Seema, who was captain of his national side, even led them to a final and was involved in some of the most iconic moments for Likuena in the competition.

He made 13 appearances in all, having emerged as one of the leading defenders from the region in that time, becoming an icon for South African Premier Soccer League sides Bloemfontein Celtic and later Orlando Pirates.

He first appeared in the competition as a 17-year-old in 1998, playing for Lesotho in their 2-0 loss to a powerful Zimbabwe line-up.

He was back the following year and this time helped Lesotho to a 1-0 victory over Namibia that sealed a quarterfinal place with Angola, where they would end up losing by the same scoreline.

The 2000 tournament was a memorable one in that he helped Lesotho to a 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over powerhouse Zambia, winning the Man of the Match award in what was a colossal performance.

He was prominent again as Lesotho defeated Angola in the semifinals to book a first ever COSAFA Castle Cup final place against Zimbabwe.

He featured in the first leg of the decider where Lesotho lost 3-0 to a star-studded Warriors side. They would end up losing 6-0 on aggregate.

He played again in 2001 and 2003 with little success, before the following year being involved in the 0-0 draw with Botswana that culminated in an 11-10 victory for the Zebras.

Unfortunately for Seema, it was his penalty-kick miss that lost the game for his side, but it was an epic display from both sides.

His final year of competing in the COSAFA Castle Cup was in 2006 when Lesotho defeated Mozambique in a penalty shoot-out, before losing the final of their mini-pool 3-1 to Angola.

After a sterling career at Celtic and Pirates, he remains with the Bloemfontein side as an assistant coach to Serame Letsoaka.

The COSAFA Castle Cup has a rich history of developing top talent for the region and it will be fascinating to see the rising stars of tomorrow at the 2016 tournament in Namibia from June 11-25.

It has proven time and again that it is Southern Africa’s tournament of discovery!