Old foes clash in Uhuru tour­ney

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Fans are in for a treat next week­end when Mat­lama clash with Li­oli, while Bantu face LCS in the 2015 In­de­pen­dence Cup semi­fi­nals.

The four premier­ship gi­ants were drawn against each other at Bam­batha Tšita sports arena on Tues­day, set­ting the stage for an ex­plo­sive dou­ble-header at set­soto Sta­dium on 7 Novem­ber. The fi­nal takes place at the same venue the fol­low­ing day.

Li­oli won the tour­na­ment last year af­ter de­feat­ing Mat­lama 12-11 in a penalty shootout, and their clash next week­end has been dubbed ‘a fi­nal be­fore the fi­nal’.

Bankrolled by Metropoli­tan Le­sotho and stan­dard Le­sotho Bank to the tune of M600 000, the In­de­pen­dence Cup has be­come one of the most cov­eted sil­ver­wares in do­mes­tic foot­ball whose win­ner takes home M110 000 this year.

The spon­sors have also pro­vided each of the four teams with two pairs of soc­cer kit, adding to the spoils of this ex­cit­ing tour­na­ment. Teams which ended the pre­vi­ous premier­ship sea­son on first to fourth po­si­tion qual­ify for the com­pe­ti­tion held as part of cel­e­bra­tions to mark the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence. Le­sotho gained in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain on 4 Oc­to­ber 1966.

Speak­ing at Tues­day’s draw, pre­mier league chairperson, John Leuta, said: “We had to post­pone the tour­na­ment from its usual dates in Oc­to­ber due to the na­tional team’s com­mit­ments. We thank our spon­sors, Metropoli­tan Le­sotho and stan­dard Le­sotho Bank, for their com­mit­ment to de­vel­op­ing foot­ball in our coun­try, through this tour­na­ment.

“I also wish to an­nounce that the win­ners of this year’s tour­na­ment will take home M110 000, which is M10 000 more than last year’s first prize of M100 000.

“Prizes for sec­ond, third and fourth place are un­changed and re­main at M60 000, M40 000 and M30 000 re­spec­tively, while there will also be in­di­vid­ual prizes.

“How­ever, it is also im­por­tant that clubs ed­u­cate their sup­port­ers about the need for good be­hav­iour as we ex­pect to have a peace­ful com­pe­ti­tion once again this year.”

stan­dard Le­sotho Bank Head of Mar­ket­ing, Mare­abet­soe Ma­baleha, told guests at Tues­day’s draw that the spon­sor­ship is meant to en­sure the de­vel­op­ment of foot­ball in the coun­try.

“The com­pe­ti­tion dates back to 2011 when we joined forces with the foot­ball fam­ily in re­viv­ing this in­de­pen­dence com­pe­ti­tion,” Ma- baleha said.

“We are very proud that the tour­na­ment has con­tin­ued to grow and also helped the stan­dards of foot­ball to grow.

“We have had chal­lenges along the years, but we have over­come them to make the com­pe­ti­tion big­ger and bet­ter as the first prize money has in­creased from M50 000 in 2011 to M110 000 this year.”

Ma­baleha also said the tour­na­ment is Stan­dard Bank’s way of giv­ing back to the coun­try.

“not only do we en­sure the growth of lo­cal foot­ball, we also give play­ers the plat­form to com­pete and show­case their tal­ents,” added Ma­baleha.

“What I can also prom­ise is that next year’s edi­tion will make ev­ery Mosotho proud since since the coun­try will be cel­e­brat­ing its 50th in­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary.”

Li­oli, bantu, LCS and Mat­lama play­ers show­case their new soc­cer kit on Tues­day.

THE in­de­pen­dence tro­phy.

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