Zimbabwe won’t take Lesotho lightly in World Cup qualifier

Zimbabwe will be wary of the threat posed by Lesotho as the two COSAFA members clash in their World Cup qualifier at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

Lesotho have already caused a major upset in the group with their draw away against favourites Nigeria at the start of the qualifying campaign in November, sending out a strong warning signal to the other five countries in Group C.

The Basotho and Zimbabwe both kicked off their campaign in November with successive draws and will now be targeting Friday’s clash for a first win.

They will also be looking for extensive support from expatriates living in the South Africa and can expect fulsome backing from the stands at the Soweto venue.

Zimbabwe go into the clash with a record of 15 wins, seven draws and only two defeats against Likuena but it is the first time the pair meet in a World Cup qualifier.

Officials were working against the clock to secure a passport for English-born Tawanda Chirewa, who made a Premier League debut for Wolverhampton Wanderers against Arsenal in April. The 20-year-old attacker was born in Britain to Zimbabwean parents and has been training with the squad in Johannesburg but needs a Zimbabwe passport if he is to play.

Two other English-based players, Brendan Galloway from Plymouth Argyle, and Macauley Bonne from Cambridge United are out with injury.

Zimbabwe have Jairos Tapera as interim coach, assisted by the experienced Sunday Chidzambwa, who was given a lifetime achievement prize at the recent COSAFA Awards in Johannesburg.

Lesotho warmed up for the clash against Zimbabwe with a 1-1 draw against Namibia at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, coming back from a goal down.

They have added defender Thabo Makhele, previously called up by South Africa at under-23 level, for their squad. He plays for Chippa United in the DStv Premiership and was previously on the books of SuperSport United and Witbank Spurs.

Lesotho have drawn their previous six World Cup qualifiers, including their opening two for the 2026 finals against Nigeria and Benin in November. They will host Rwanda in Durban next Tuesday in their round four game.

Zimbabwe did not win a group match in the last World Cup qualifiers and were disqualified from the 2018 preliminaries. They have won one of their last 20 World Cup matches.

After the Lesotho match they will take on South Africa in Bloemfontein on Tuesday.

Goalkeepers: Godfrey Chitsumba (Manica Diamonds), Bernard Donovan (Chicken Inn), Martin Mapisa (Dynamos)

Defenders: Andrew Mbeba (Highlanders), Munashe Garananga (KV Mechelen, Belgium), Teenage Hadebe (Konyaspor, Turkey), Devine Lunga (Mamelodi Sundowns, South Africa), Shane Maroodza (Huddersfield Town, England), Godknows Murwira (CAPS United), Gerald Takwara (Ohod, Saudi Arabia)

Midfielders: Tawanda Maswanhise (Leicester City, England), Daniel Msendami (Jwaneng Galaxy, Botswana), Marshall Munetsi (Stade Reims, France), Joey Phuthi (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Andy Rinomhota (Rotherham United, England), Tivonge Rushesha (Reading, England), Jordan Zemura (Udinese, Italy)

Forwards: Tawanda Chirewa (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Tinotenda Kadewere (Nantes, France), Tymon Machope (Simba Bhora), Douglas Mapfumo (Polokwane City, South Africa), Walter Musona (Simba Bhora).


Goalkeepers: Tankiso Chaba (Lesotho Correctional Services), Sekhoane Moerane (Orbit College, South Africa), Ntsane Molise (Linare)

Defenders: Fusi Matlabe (Mpheni Home Defenders, South Africa), Thabo Makhele (Chippa United, South Africa),  Thabang Malane (Lesotho Correctional Services), Thabo Matsoele (Bantu), Motlomelo Mkhwanazi (Botswana Defence Force, Botswana), Motete Mohai (Matlama), Rethabile Mokokoane (Matlama), Rethabile Rasethuntsa (Linare)

Midfielders: Tswarelo Bereng (Orbit College, South Africa), Lehlohonolo Fothoane (Bantu), Tumelo Khutlang (Lioli), Lisema Lebokallane (Linare), Thabo Lesaoana (Bantu), Teboho Letsema (Sekhukhune United, South Africa), Lehlohonolo Matsau (Lesotho Defence Force), Neo Mokhachane, Tlotliso Phatsisi (Black Leopards, South Africa), Tsepang Sefali (Linare), Tsepo Toloane (Lesotho Defence Force)

Forwards: Lemohang Lintsa (Limkokwing University), Motebang Sera (Royal AM), Jane Thabantso (Matlama).