Hats off to Bantu

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BANTU over­came their poor start to the 2015/16 premier league sea­son by win­ning the 2015 In­de­pen­dence Cup on Sun­day fol­low­ing a 15-14 penalty shootout vic­tory over bit­ter ri­vals Li­oli.

A Matšo Mate­bele reached the fi­nal af­ter elim­i­nat­ing LCS the pre­vi­ous day in the semi-fi­nal, also on penal­ties, while Li­oli edged Mat­lama 2-1 in the other semi.

The spot-kick marathon on its own tells it all — that this was a com­pet­i­tive af­fair and none of the fi­nal­ists were go­ing to sur­ren­der with­out putting up a des­per­ate fight.

How­ever, at the end of the day, I think Bantu de­served the ti­tle as they held their nerve twice to pre­vail against a steely LCS and an equally de­ter­mined if not skill­ful Tse Nala on Sun­day.

To say this was a re­mark­able turn­around in for­tune for Bantu would be an un­der­state­ment as this was a team go­ing through a bad patch, and had just fired head-coach Katiso Mo­jakhomo for poor re­sults.

The in­ter­est­ing thing is Bantu’s re­vival came against Li­oli two weeks ago, beat­ing the pre­vi­ously un­beaten league cham­pi­ons 3-1 at Set­soto Sta­dium. Sun­day’s shootout win means A Matšo Mate­bele com­pleted a dou­ble over their bit­ter ri­vals, and to make the vic­tory even sweeter, the Mafeteng gi­ants claimed the M110 000 first prize money, which I be­lieve is a tidy sum for two days’ work.

Credit should go to care­taker coach Caswell Moru and his fel­low tech­ni­cal depart­ment mem­bers, and of-course, the play­ers who man­aged to turn around their for­tunes in­side one week.

For Li­oli play­ers and their coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, I am sure they are gut­ted to have lost twice in­side two weeks against the same foe, and also hav­ing been the formteam. Tse Nala had been un­beaten seven matches into the sea­son, un­til the 1 Novem­ber loss.

As for Mat­lama, a lot had been ex­pected of the team in the in­de­pen­dence tour­na­ment, but they failed to live up to ex­pec­ta­tions.

Tse Put­soa have been play­ing a very youth­ful squad since Moses Maliehe took over the coach­ing reins at the start of the sea­son and maybe they needed a bit of ex­pe­ri­ence in this knock­out tour­na­ment.

Mean­while, among the play­ers who im­pressed dur­ing the tour­na­ment was Bantu striker, La­zola Tjokotjokoane.

The South African striker was named Player of the Tour­na­ment, af­ter his two goals en­sured Bantu lifted the sil­ver­ware.

But not only did Tjokotjokoane im­press in this tour­na­ment — the pow­er­ful for­ward has been con­sis­tently good for his team, prompt­ing calls by the foot­ball pub­lic for the player to be per­suaded into tak­ing up Le­sotho cit­i­zen­ship so he can play for the na­tional team, Likuena.

The striker’s chances of play­ing for his coun­try are very slim, but he can make it into Likuena.

There is no doubt Tjokotjokoane of­fers some­thing very dif­fer­ent to what we have in our strik­ers and it would not be a bad idea to of­fer him Le­sotho cit­i­zen­ship.

Many coun­tries have im­proved their na­tional teams by of­fer­ing cit­i­zen­ship to play­ers they feel could be use­ful and I don’t see why we can­not do the same be­cause we have re­ally strug­gled to get goals at the high­est level.

But all in all, I think the two-day In­de­pen­dence Cup com­pe­ti­tion, also known as the Top4 tour­na­ment be­cause it in­volved the top four teams from the pre­vi­ous premier league sea­son, of­fered en­ter­tain­ment all the way.

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