Wednesday, April 03, 2013

CAF WIBD: Crocodile Tears

It's been a little while since our last journey down the "Well-I'll-be-darned" street, and while we will be wrapping up most of the qualifying in the next six months, there's still a chance to root for those tiniest of minnows.

We continue our tour of lesser known teams battling for a shot at Brazil 2014 in Africa, by taking a trip  to the tiny state of Lesotho, surrounded by South Africa, crouched in the bottom of their second round group, but still granted an opportunity that other countries don't have: to play the game with the world on the line. (So take that Bhutan and Vanuatu!)

I like her hat better...
Lesotho (aka "The Crocodiles") started their campaign ranked #185 in the world (August 2011) presumably because the Will & Kate royal wedding had finally eradicated glow of King Lesthi III's royal wedding a decade before.  Yet the Crocodiles rolled on to round two by beating Burundi.

As a reward for their positive showing in the first round of qualifying Lesotho got lumped with a couple tough opponents for round 2, including Ghana (fresh from their shoulda-been-semis performance in South Africa), Zambia (hungry to prove themselves and gearing up for what would be their first African Cup of Nations title this winter) and Sudan (I wouldn't want to mess with Omar al-Basheer, would you?).

Sure enough they got thumped in the opener 7-0 by the Black Stars tying their national federation's record for worst. loss. ever.
Ayanda Lubelo of South Africa battles with Leonty Litsepe Marabe of Lesotho
Goal scorer Letsipe Marabe

Since then Basotho fans have been able to cheer their boys in blue & green much more. At home in Maseru they've drawn twice and even notched a much needed goal which lifted them past Sudan into third place.

Still, it might be early to ring the victory bells (or rather, since this is Lesotho the setelo-tolo/jaw harp), there's a long way to go. This is unchartered water for the crocodiles and if young gun Letsipe Marabe is the only guy to get a goal, there's not a whole lot of veteran leadership who can keep the young squad steady if Ghana runs up the score again (hint...they probably will...).

Still, as long as there is a blog like this there will be foolish hopefulness for the underdog. If the Crocodiles can get wins in their next/last three matches (two of which are away from home) they can shockingly, miraculously, eliminate both the continent's champion and their best performer from the past two world cups.

Impossible you say?!? Yeah, probably...but where's the fun in admitting defeat?

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