|Angola's Fabrice Akwa chased by Lehlohonolo Seema (right)|
and Malefetsane Pheko
On July 23, 2000, Lesotho pulled off one of the greatest shocks in COSAFA Castle Cup history when it defeated Angola 2-1 at Setsoto Stadium in the semi-finals of the 2000 tournament.
The loss ended the Palancas Negras’ three-year reign as COSAFA Cup champions.
At the time Lesotho was ranked 99 places below Angola in the FIFA World Rankings and was not expected to get the better of the star-studded visitors.
However, Likuena had already defeated Zambia in a penalty shoot-out in the quarterfinals to seal a place in the last four. Under coach Monaheng Monyane there was steel to this Lesotho side and now a growing sense of confidence as well.
Angola settled quicker, though, and started the better of the two teams. They put Likuena under pressure and things appeared to be going according to plan for the Palancas Negras when striker Fabrice Akwa put them in front after 30 minutes.
The goal came via a free-kick from just outside the penalty box with Akwa superbly curling the ball around the wall and beyond Lesotho goalkeeper Tšeliso Thite.
However, surprisingly, Angola failed to push for a second goal and press home its advantage. Instead, the visitors sat back in the belief they would be able to keep Likuena at bay.
The move backfired because it invited pressure from the home team. On 80 minutes, sensing an opportunity, Monyane brought on target-man Motlatsi Shale to replace midfielder Motheo Mohapi.
The move paid off six minutes from time as Motlatsi Maseela grabbed a superb equaliser for Lesotho after substitute Shale chested the ball down for his teammate to blast home from close-range.
The tide was now with the home team and just as it looked as if the match was headed for extra-time, Lesotho grabbed a winner in a manner that still rankles with the Angolans today.
Having been awarded a free-kick, Lesotho striker Teele Ntšonyana took the set-piece quickly before Botswana referee Aloisious Sesikwe had blown his whistle.
This caught he Angolans off-guard and the ball sailed into the back of the net for one of the most important goals in Lesotho football history. The Angolans were furious.
It was the first time Angola, who did not compete in the inaugural event in 1997, had been defeated in 12 COSAFA Cup matches. Angola had lifted the title in 1998 and 1999 and the loss denied the Palancas Negras a chance at an unprecedented hat-trick of titles.
Lesotho could not repeat its heroics in the final, however, as Likuena went down 6-0 on aggregate to Zimbabwe after a pair of 3-0 losses home and away.
Nevertheless, the 2000 COSAFA Cup teams’ feats make it one of the greatest sides the country has had. It remains Lesotho’s only appearance in the COSAFA Cup final.
As fate would have it, Lesotho and Angola have been paired in the first round draw for the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup along with Malawi and Mauritius. The winner of that pool will face South Africa in the quarterfinals.
16 years ago it was Lesotho who came out on top. #TBT
Sunday, July 23, 2000
Setsoto Stadium, Maseru
Lesotho (0) 2
Angola (1) 1
Goals: 0-1 Akwa 30’; 1-1 Motlatsi Maseela 84’; 2-1 Teele Ntšonyana 89’
Yellow cards: Malefetsane Pheko 36’; Helder Vicente 44’, Edson Cata 53’, Silas 75’, Antonio Neto 89’
Referee: Alousious Sesikwe (Botswana)
Man of the match: Motlatsi Maseela (Lesotho)
Lesotho (3-5-2): Tšeliso Thite, Mpitsa Marai, Thabang Mahlakajoe, Eric Makara (Seth Lephoto 89’), Motlatsi Maseela, Tšepo Hlojeng - Lehlohonolo Seema, Malefetsane Pheko (Shalane Lehohla 63’), Motheo Mohapi (Motlatsi Shale 80’) - Teele Ntšonyana, Lebajoa Mphongoa
Coach: Monaheng Monyane
Angola: Ndulo, Renato (Djana 70’), Antonio Neto, Helder Vicente, Yamba Asha, Carlos Pedro, Joni, Paulao (Taty 79’), Edson Cata, Silas, Akwa
Coach: Carlos Alhinho.