Set­soto hosts uhuru jam­boree

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

THE bat­tle for In­de­pen­dence Cup glory ex­plodes this week­end at Set­soto Sta­dium with Bantu, Mat­lama, Li­oli and LCS fight­ing-itout for the M110 000 first prize at stake.

Bantu and LCS get the tour­na­ment un­der­way on Satur­day at 1pm, with Li­oli fac­ing Mat­lama in the sec­ond semi-fi­nal of the day soon af­ter.

Win­ners of the two semis clash the fol­low­ing day in the fi­nal sched­uled for the same venue, while the los­ing semi-fi­nal­ists fight for third place in the cur­tain-raiser of the de­ci­sive tie.

Li­oli coach, Mosholu ‘ Shoes’ Mokhothu, told the Le­sotho Times that his side would need to bounce back against Mat­lama af­ter los­ing 3-1 to Bantu on Sun­day. The de­feat was Li­oli’s first in seven league matches this sea­son, and Mokhothu said his charges can­not af­ford to lose back-to-back matches as it has never hap­pened for the past three sea­sons.

“We must bounce back im­me­di­ately. That is why we were back at work on Mon­day to ad­dress our weak­nesses that saw us lose to Bantu at the week­end,” Mokhothu said.

“I had a meet­ing with the play­ers be­cause it was im­por­tant that we re­viewed our mis­takes and get back to win­ning ways as soon as pos­si­ble.”

Mokhothu ad­mit­ted his play­ers were not at their best on Sun­day and was par­tic­u­larly crit­i­cal of the defence.

“We made a lot of mis­takes de­fen­sively and at the end of the day, got pun­ished for it. But you have to un­der­stand that it’s all part of the game; it’s true we were shocked with the re­sult be­cause Bantu had been strug­gling in re­cent matches, but like I said, this is foot­ball and any­thing can hap­pen,” said Mokhothu.

The ami­able coach has how­ever, al­layed fears that the de­feat could be the be­gin­ning of the end of Li­oli’s in­vin­ci­bil­ity.

“I don’t think there is any need to panic be­cause we have a good team. It is just a mat­ter of plan­ning bet­ter and we will get the re­sults we need.

“We are the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons of the in­de­pen­dence tour­na­ment, so we must come back stronger and de­liver against Mat­lama on Satur­day,” he said.

On his part, Mat­lama coach, Moses Maliehe, says his charges have what it takes to up­set Li­oli and go all the way to win the In­de­pen­dence Cup.

“I’m con­vinced that this group of play­ers has ma­tured enough to win this tro­phy,” Maliehe said on Tues­day.

“We will have a to­tally dif­fer­ent ap­proach to league matches and the boys are mo­ti­vated to make their sup­port­ers happy.

“We come into the match in high spir­its af­ter ding will in the league and I don’t see any­thing stop­ping us from clinch­ing the ti­tle.”

Ac­cord­ing to Maliehe, do­ing well in the in­de­pen­dence tour­na­ment has been one of the team’s tar­gets this sea­son.

“I think this time around, we can go a mile fur­ther af­ter los­ing in the fi­nal last year against Li­oli,” Maliehe said.

Mean­while, LCS coach Mpitsa Marai would be aim­ing to cause an up­set against a Bantu side brim­ming with con­fi­dence fol­low­ing their 3-1 win over Li­oli in a league match at Set­soto Sta­dium on Sun­day. This was Li­oli’s first de­feat of the sea­son.

“Cup com­pe­ti­tions are al­ways dif­fer­ent; it’s all about the mo­ti­va­tion of the play­ers and the spirit in camp at the time,” Marai said.

“It has been a while since LCS won a cup com­pe­ti­tion so it would be good to win the in­de­pen­dence tour­na­ment be­cause I be­lieve we have that abil­ity. We had a slow start to the sea­son af­ter I took over as coach this sea­son, but I feel there has been a big im­prove­ment in re­cent matches.”

Marai said his team would be with­out vet­eran cen­tre­back and na­tional team cap­tain Moitheri Ntobo due to in­jury. He how­ever, said he ex­pect a lot from star-for­ward, Thabo Seakhoa, de­spite his cur­rent dip in form.

“Of-course, the in­jury to Ntobo is a big blow, but we have a good mix of young and ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers,” said Marai.

“As for Seakhoa, it’s a mat­ter of get­ting his con­fi­dence back be­cause I’m not happy with his con­tri­bu­tion at the mo­ment, for a player of his po­ten­tial.”

Bantu care­taker coach, Caswell Moru, is happy his team is fi­nally com­ing good but has warned the play­ers against over-con­fi­dence fol­low­ing Sun­day’s fa­mous win against Li­oli.

“This is a big com­pe­ti­tion and it is im­por­tant that we do well. I think the win over Li­oli was good for morale in camp af­ter a dif­fi­cult start to the new sea­son,” Moru said.

“Now our play­ers will be­lieve in their abil­i­ties again, but it could also be dan­ger­ous if they be­come over-con­fi­dent. I know the fact that we beat Li­oli means our op­po­nents will now pre­pare bet­ter for us. Our sit­u­a­tion is more or less the same to that of LCS as they also had a slow start, but have since re­cov­ered and are do­ing so well. So on the day of the match, it will boil down to the team that has had bet­ter prepa­ra­tions,” he said.

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. While the win­ner takes home M100 000, the sec­ond, third and fourth teams take home M60 000, M40 000 and M30 000 re­spec­tively.

There will also be a man-of-the-match award in all four fix­tures, whose win­ner gets M1000. There is also go­ing to be M1, 500 for out­stand­ing in­di­vid­u­als such as player, goal­keeper, referee and top goal-scorer of the tour­na­ment.

Teams which ended the pre­vi­ous premier­ship sea­son in first to fourth po­si­tions qual­ify for the com­pe­ti­tion held as part of cel­e­bra­tions to mark the coun­try’s in­de­pen­dence. Le­sotho gained in­de­pen­dence from Bri­tain on 4 Oc­to­ber 1966.

LI­OLI celabrate their In­de­pen­dence Cup win last year.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.