Mehalalitoe captain Boitumelo Rabale scored a hat-trick to hand Lesotho a 3-0 win against Eswatini in the opening match of their group B Hollywoodbets Confederations of Southern African Football Association (COSAFA) Womenâ€™s Championship at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium yesterday.
Rabale was the star of the show marshalling the midfield which resulted in a free-kick being awarded in favour of Lesotho just outside the penalty area of Eswatini.
The Mamelodi Sundowns ladiesâ€™ player did no mistake as she slotted the first goal from the set piece showing her class and quality just on the stroke of the 5th minute inside the first half.
Mehalalitoe kept creating several chances with LitÅ¡eoana Maloro coming close to scoring the second a few times but struggled with the finish.
It was not to be long before Rabale registered her second goal in the 31st minute.
Lesotho took the 2-0 lead into the half-time break thanks to the brace from Rabale.
The second half saw Mehalalitoe dominating the game with much of the ball possession going in their favour, with Eswatini having little to nothing to say in response. Lesotho dominated the midfield.
Rabale managed to get the third goal after the hard work down the flank by TÅ¡oanelo Leboka just inside the last five minutes of the refereeâ€™s regulation time.
This was the first time the two sides meet in the tournament since 2018 and the win was just the way Mehalalitoe had hoped to mark their return to international competitions after a one-year break.
Mehalalitoe head coach, Pule Khojane, congratulated his team for a job well done saying their plan worked well and it gave them confidence going into the next ties in the group.
â€œIt was a very tough game but we had to manage their long balls. We planned to overload the midfield and our game plan worked for us,â€ Khojane said.
â€œThe plan was also to score many goals because it is a competition of goals. We wanted to score more but could not do as much as we wanted. Credit also goes to Eswatini because at some point they managed to contain us and stop us from scoring more goals,â€ he added.
Khojane mentioned the contribution of Rabale to the team saying she brought tenacity that is highly required in such competitions.
â€œShe is a very good player; I give credit to her because she leads correctly which gives confidence to the younger players. We knew her presence will make a difference,â€ he said.
The team will be looking to the morale into their next Group B match where they will lock horns with Zambia on Sunday before taking on Namibia next Tuesday.