MASERU – Lesotho and Botswana have been two of the best sides to have competed at the COSAFA Cup over the years without ever winning the title.
The two countries’ national senior football teams have both made the final appearances and been regular visitors to the last four, including last time out in Durban, South Africa, in 2019.
Lesotho’s Likuena have been runners-up in the COSAFA Cup, reaching the final in 2000 when they lost convincingly 6-0 on aggregate to Zimbabwe.
The progress of Likuena to the deciding tie shook up the competition and proved that the playing fields of southern Africa had been levelled by the so-called minnows of the region.
Beaten by Zambia and Mozambique in 2001 and 2002 respectively, they lost on post-match penalties to the Mozambicans in 2003 and Botswana in 2004, when they were beaten 11-10 by the Botswana Zebras in an incredible shootout in Maseru.
In 2006 they drew with Mozambique and then won on penalties, but lost their group final at home to Angola.
The poor run continued in 2007 as they lost to Angola and Namibia, but they did at least put up a good showing in 2008 when they beat the Comoros, their first win in the competition outside of Lesotho, and drew with Namibia.
However, their 1-0 loss to Malawi meant they did not progress to the quarterfinals.
They were ousted in the first round on goal difference in 2009, despite a win and a draw in their two matches.
But fortunes improved in 2013 when they finished fourth in the competition, advancing through the pool stages before losing in the semi-finals to Zimbabwe and then being beaten to bronze by South Africa.
The side were knocked out in the first round in South Africa in 2015, defeating Tanzania in their pool but losing to Madagascar and eSwatini.
But then they found their form in Namibia a year later when they stormed through the pool stages, getting wins over Mauritius, Angola and Malawi, before losing to South Africa on penalties in the quarterfinals after a 1-1 draw.
Lesotho reached the semi-finals of the competitions in 2017, 2018 and 2019, but narrowly lost on each occasion.
The first two ended in defeat to Zimbabwe (4-3 and on penalties after a 0-0 draw), before they lost 2-1 to Botswana on the last of those.
They picked up the bronze medal in 2018 after beating Madagascar in the third-place play-off.
4 goals – Motebang, Tale, Thaba-Ntšo
3 – Maile, Ntšonyana
2 – Kamela, Mokhahalane, ‘Muso
1 – Bereng, Boakang, Kalake, Khutlang, Koetle, Lerotholi, Lesesa, Letsie, Majara, Makepe,
Maseela, Mofolo, Moletsane, Nkoto, Potloane, Potse, Rankara, Seturumane, Tšosane