Mokhothu proud of team

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

Li­oli coach Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu says he is proud of his charges for with­stand­ing im­mense pres­sure to win the LNIG Top8 ti­tle last Sun­day.

Tse Nala won their sec­ond Top8 cham­pi­onship in two years by de­feat­ing LCS 1-0 in the fi­nal at Set­soto Sta­dium af­ter ham­mer­ing LDF 5-0 in the semi­fi­nal the pre­vi­ous day at the same venue.

The Tey­ateya­neng-based side first won the com­pe­ti­tion in 2014 when the Le­sotho Na­tional In­surance Group (LNIG) took over spon­sor­ship of the an­nual tour­na­ment.

Go­ing into the week­end con­test, Li­oli were un­der pres­sure to repli­cate their league form but Jerry Kamela’s goal from a free kick sealed the deal against LCS in the fi­nal and en­sured Tse-nala took home the M100 000 win­ners’ prize.

In the other semi­fi­nal played at the same venue, LCS beat Bantu 1-0 to set a date with Li­oli in the fi­nal.

How­ever, it was Li­oli who smiled all the way to the bank thanks to Kamela’s won­der­strike which also saw him walk away with the goal-of-the-tour­na­ment, player-of-the­tour­na­ment and man-of-the-match awards to pocket M5 000 for the three ac­co­lades.

But ac­cord­ing to Mokhothu, win­ning the tour­na­ment had not been easy be­cause of the pres­sure the team was un­der.

“We came into this com­pe­ti­tion un­der a lot of pres­sure af­ter Mat­lama cut our lead at the top of the premier league ta­ble (the teams are now level on 46 points from 21 matches with five matches to go be­fore the sea­son comes to a close),” Mokhothu said.

“But my play­ers showed char­ac­ter and rose to the oc­ca­sion to win this tro­phy for the sec­ond time in two years.”

Mokhothu said he told the play­ers to use their skills to get the bet­ter of their op­po­nents in the fi­nal.

“We have very skill­ful play­ers who can be a night­mare to any side on their day and the team was also boosted by the re­turn of Bushy Mo­let­sane, who is a very good ball-player,” said Mokhothu.

“But I have to ad­mit it was never easy in the fi­nal as LCS are also a good side. How­ever, we had a good game-plan which re­ally worked for us.

“i told the play­ers to force LCS into com­mit­ting fouls close to the penalty-box since we were strug­gling to break them down. We wanted to use our free-kick spe­cial­ist and this plan worked and en­abled Jerry to have a go at the keeper.

“Af­ter this win, we can now go into the fi­nal five matches of the sea­son high on con­fi­dence and hope­fully, make it a dou­ble by win­ning the Top8 and league ti­tles.”

On his part, Kamela said he was very happy to scoop the in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lades but was also quick to pay trib­ute to the rest of the team.

“This is due re­ward for hard work and i’m also very grate­ful to Li­oli for giv­ing me this chance. Credit must also go to my col­leagues as it is team­work that worked for us in the end,” Kamela said.

Kamela also spoke about the goal that made the dif­fer­ence in the fi­nal.

“i said a short prayer be­fore tak­ing the free-kick and was de­lighted to see the ball go­ing into the net.

“i al­ways pray to my God for strength; i asked for his guid­ance when i took that free­kick and was very happy to see it go­ing in,” he said.

Mean­while, LNIG spon­sored this year’s com­pe­ti­tion to the tune of M600 000. With Li­oli walk­ing away with M100 000, run­ner­sup LCS re­ceived M80 000, while LDF took home M60 000 and fourth-placed ed Bantu pock­eted M40 000.

Quar­ter­fi­nal­ists Mat­lama, Likhopo, Sun­dawana and Lik­ila United nited each re­ceived M30 000.

The Top8 tour­na­ment in- volves teams which fin­ish the pre­vi­ous sea­son among the first eight sides on the Vo­da­com Premier League ta­ble.

In­di­vid­ual awards s Coach of the tour­na­ment — Mpitsa Marai (LCS), Player of the tour­na­ment ent — Jerry Kamela (Li­oli), Goal of the tour­na­ment ur­na­ment — Jerry Kamela (Li­oli), Goal­keep­erer of the tour­na­ment — Kananelo Makhooane ne (Li­oli), Top goalscorer — Nkoto Ma­soabi (Li­oli), Li­oli), Ref­eree of the tour­na­ment — Le­balang Mokete, as­sis­tant ref­eree of the tour­na­ment ent — Souru Phatšoane.

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