Lesotho Defence Force coach Lengana Nkhethoa admits his side face a mighty task in the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League l COSAFA Qualifier in Durban from August 26 to September 4, but believes they can win the competition and book a ticket to Cairo.
Army side LDF are in Group A along with top seeds Mamelodi Sundowns, Double Action Ladies from Botswana and Eswatini’s Manzini Wanderers. Only the top two sides will advance to the semifinals.
“It’s a very tough group,” Nkhethoa admits. “Everybody expects to go through to the next round, so we have to be prepared to do that. We don’t know each other, so it will be very difficult.
“But I believe in my team and their capabilities. So we will work very hard to go through.”
Aside from the right to call themselves regional champions, the carrot being dangled in the competition is the fact that the winner will advance to the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League being played in Cairo later this year.
To play in that competition would potentially open up a new career path for many LDF players, with scouts from many countries likely to be in attendance.
“It’s a big opportunity, we don’t have that many players in our country that are playing abroad, so it will be a big opportunity for them to give themselves exposure to play for teams outside Lesotho,” he says.
“That experience will give our national team the opportunity to improve also. It can make all our young players better. It is huge for women’s football.”
LDF won the Lesotho Women’s Super League for the third year in a row in 2020 and were founded by former national team player Baholo Motene, who last year was elected president of the Lesotho Women’s Football Executive Committee.
“My international career ended when I enlisted in the army in 2014,” she told FIFA.com. “But that never stopped me from achieving my dreams. I set up a team in the army. I also saw an opportunity for my team-mates in the newly-founded Lesotho Defence Force Ladies Football Club, many of whom were still struggling to get jobs.
“This all happened in 2016, and my team has been dominating since then. The positive outcome of this was that 15 players have now found permanent jobs. Helping other women through football has positively influenced my life.”