Going down memory lane-Makoanyane XI Class of 2011
It is a decade ago that Leslie Notši led the Lesotho National Under-20 team Makoanyane XI to the 2011 African Youth Championship held in South Africa.
Makoanyane XI booked their place at the eight-team showpiece after finishing on top of a group consisting of Mozambique, South Africa, and Kenya.
However, South Africa were able to find their way back into the tourney after replacing Libya, who were stripped of the right to host the tournament due a civil war in the North African country.
Makoanyane XI started their campaign against a star-studded Egyptian Under-20 side which boasted the likes of Liverpool’s superstar Mohamed Salah.
The north African side won the match 2-0 with goals from former West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi in the 46th minute while Salah added the second goal from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute.
In the second match, South Africa were able to get their revenge against Lesotho, who had eliminated them in the qualifiers, but managed to get their way back into the tournament after replacing war torn Libya as the new hosts.
Letsie Koapeng and Lucky Nguzana scored the two goals for the hosts with Litṧepe Marabe scoring the consolation goal for Lesotho late in the game.
Makoanyane XI played Mali in their last match of Group A, which ended in a one-all stalemate as Egypt and the West Africans advanced to the knockout stage while Lesotho and South Africa were eliminated from the tournament.
Kananelo Makhooane: One of the star players for the team and was an ever present in the qualifying campaign as well as the tournament in South Africa playing in all the three matches. A lot was expected from Makhooane after he graduated from the U-20 team, but earned just a few caps for the senior team. He played for Lioli and Matlama in the later stages of his career before shifting his focus to his studies and was part of the Local Organising Committee for the recently ended AUSC region 5 games on home soil.
Sefatsa Baholo: He deputised Makhooane throughout the qualifiers and tournament in South Africa. His rise at Nyenye Rovers and with Makoanyane XI saw him make a big move to Lioli in 2010, but never really got an opportunity to play at Tse Nala, where he was competing with the senior national team first choice goalkeeper-Mohau Kuenane for a place in the starting line-up. Baholo tragically lost his life a few years later when he was stabbed to death.
Sepiriti Malefane: The utility Tṧenola born player, who was used by Notsi as a right back or defensive midfielder, is still active playing for the Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS). He was playing his football in the South African lower division when he headed to the youth tournament in 2011. Malefane went on to represent his country at the 2016 and 2019 COSAFA tournament, where Lesotho made it to the quarterfinals and semi-finals respectively.
Thabiso Mohapi: Another versatile member of the team, who could play as a right back or defensive midfielder. ‘Mathopa’, as the utility player was popularly known, was among the goals in the 6-1 victory over Mozambique in the qualifiers and featured at the tournament in South Africa. He is currently in the books of LMPS and played for the country’s big guns such as Bantu and Lioli.
Teboho Lekhooa: Scoppy, as the Kick4Life captain is popular known, was among the young members of the team. He was an unused substitute in all the three game and went on to captain a new generation of Makoanyane XI squad under Moses Maliehe as Lesotho hosted the COSAFA Under-20 Championship in 2013. They also came close to qualifying for the next edition of the African Youth Championship in 2015.
Mafa Moremoholo: He remained with the team long after the tournament in South Africa and would go on to share the captaincy’s responsibilities with Lekhooa as Maliehe took over the reins from Notsi as the new coach. He later graduated to the senior national team, where he would also be rewarded with the captain’s armband. He was part of the Likuena’s squad that narrowly missed out on securing qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. Moremoholo is still in the books of boyhood club-Lioli as the captain.
Salebone Lekhooa: The ever green and versatile player continues to enjoy his football in the Vodacom Premier League playing for Matlama. He never really got a chance with the senior team, but he has had a long and successful career at club level since cutting his teeth at Likhopo.
Montoeli Sonopo: The speedy winger’s fine displays during the qualifiers and tournament attracted the attention of international scouts. He left the country for Spain shortly after the tournament in South Africa to sign for Atletico Madrid, in arguably the biggest transfer involving a Lesotho born player. However, the move collapsed a few months later with Sonopo re-joining Lioli, where he has been playing his football since the Spain heartbreak.
Kopano Tseka: The lanky defender has had a very successful and long career since his days playing for Makoanyane. He won a lot of trophies playing for Lioli before moving to LCS two seasons ago. An ever present at the tournament in South Africa, where he partnered Basia Makepe in the heart of the defence. Tseka has also won over 40 caps playing for the senior national team including bronze at the 2018 COSAFA Cup.
Tsebang Lebata: He was the top goal scorer in the qualifiers along with Lehlomela Ramabele having each scored four goals including a hat-trick in the 6-1 demolition of Mozambique at Setsoto Stadium. ‘Owen’, as Lebata was popularly known, was the scorer of the solitary goal in the 1-0 win over Kenya in Nairobi that secured Makoanyane XI’s ticket to the continental youth tournament. Sadly, the talented forward’s promising career was cut short by a troublesome knee injury after undergoing surgery in 2015.
Mosiuoa Boseka: Despite regular call-ups to the senior national team and playing for the country’s big guns such as Bantu and LCS, Boseka’s career does not match the potential he showed playing for Makoanyane XI in their road to qualify for the 2011 Africa Youth Championship. He scored the equalizer against Mali in the 1-1 draw at the tournament and was used mostly as an impact player even in the qualifiers.
Tšoanelo Koetle: Arguably one of the best players of this generation though his career has always been haunted by off-the field incidents. Like many of his Makoanyane XI teammates, he graduated to the senior team and impressed in almost every game including having Gabon and Arsenal star striker Pierre Aubameyang in the pocket during the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifier played at Setsoto Stadium late in 2014. At the 2015 COSAFA Cup in Rustenburg, Koetle twice bagged player of the match awards playing in two different positions to prove his talented, which were not only appreciated locally, but even internationally. One of the players to have also played for all the big three of Lesotho in Matlama, Lioli and Bantu.
Lehlomela Ramabele: Another star player in the road to qualifying for the continental tournament in 2011. He was the top scorer with Lebata with four goals including a brace against South Africa. Ramabele showed a lot of potential in the early days of his career and left the country to play in Botswana. However, his career failed to progress since he came back. He played for Likhopo and won a few trophies with Matlama before leaving to play in the A Division.
Litšepe Marabe: He has enjoyed a very successful career at club level winning almost every trophy on offer in Lesotho topflight football as well as individual accolades. The talented forward has also had spells outside the country in Botswana, South Africa and recently was said to have signed for a club in India, but has not really made a big impact every time he left the country for greener pastures. He was the top goal scorer in the league last season and has also scored special goals playing for the senior national team including a scorcher past Zambia’s Kennedy Mweene, which secured a point against Herve Renard’s Chipolopolo, who had just been crowned African Champions.
Lebajoa Mosehlenyane: The talented winger has been a bit of a journeyman since his Mpharane Celtic days with two spells with Linare and playing for Bantu and Matlama in between. He managed to win silverware at Bantu and Matlama, but his career has hit a snag in recent years. He is currently in the books of Linare though has not played for the club in a while and has unresolved off-the field issues.
Jeremea Kamela: A product of now defunct Joy FC, where he played his football during his time playing for Makoanyane XI. His rise in the domestic led to a big move to Lioli, where he would enjoy a lot of success with the club winning almost every trophy on offer. He was crowned Player of the Season in 2016 after helping Tse Nala win a double of the Vodacom Premier League and the LNIG Top 8. Kamela is reviving his career at Linare after struggling with injuries and loss of form.
Basia Makepe: A natural born leader, who has captained every team he has played for since getting his breakthrough at the now defunct Joy FC. Makepe was the captain of Makoanyane XI as they qualified for the African Youth Championship in 2011, where he parted Tseka in the heart of the defence. An ever present in the qualifiers and the tournament for Makoanyane XI. He captained Likuena to the quarterfinals of the COSAFA Cup in 2016 under Moses Maliehe and was also the captain as the team clinched bronze at the expense of Madagascar in 2018. He enjoyed a short and successful spell with Lioli as the captain before moving to LMPS, where he was also handed the captaincy. The Leribe born defender remains the captain of the senior national team and has won over 50 caps.
Lekhanya Lekhanya: Another talented member of the Makoanyane XI, whose performance has been on and off through the years at club level and the national team. Among a few players that can also boast about playing for the big three of Bantu, Matlama and Lioli. His best performances for the senior national team include scoring against Gabon in 2014 as Likuena secured a 1-1 draw in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Lekhanya is not attached to any team at the moment and is yet to announce his retirement as player.
Monne Pitso: An unused substitute throughout the tournament as he had to compete for the right-back position with the likes of Koetle and Lekhooa, who were already playing regular football for big clubs. The diminutive defender showed a lot of potential whenever given a chance at Lioli and Kick4life, but his career has never really blossomed in all the clubs he has played for.