MASERU — Premier league giants Lioli and Bantu will battle it out for the Independence Top4 title when the two teams meet at Setsoto stadium this afternoon. The two teams clash after both won their semi-final match yesterday to book a place in today’s final that will see them vying for the M50 000 first prize money.
Tse Nala were the first to book a semi-final place thanks to a 2-0 victory over LDF in the penalties following a goalless draw during the 90 minutes. Long serving goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, was the hero as he saved two penalties to help the Teyateyaneng based team advance to the final. A Matšo Matebele, as Bantu are affectionately known, gave a convincing performance beating LDF 2-0 to set a date with their rivals in the final.
The Mafeteng based team went into the lead on the 37th minute of the game after lanky striker, Dlomo Monaphathi, pounced on poor marking by the Army side for the opening goal of the match. The match went to the half time breaking with Bantu enjoying a 1-0 lead. They broke again early in the second half with their skipper Tlali Maile jumping high to head in a corner kick for his team’s second goal of the match.
The Mafeteng based team had numerous chances in the second half to increase the score line, but their attacking players including Tsebang Lebata were very wasteful in front of goals. LDF also squandered a few chances to get the match back on track in the second half with Mojele Letsie proving dangerous every time he had the ball inside the penalty box.
This year’s win over LDF was the third in succession for the Mafeteng based team in the Independence tournament as they beat the Army side in the last two editions of this tournament. They will also be appearing in their third successive final of the Independence tourney having won the last two editions. Lioli coach, Mosholu “Shoes” Mokhothu, who has failed to win the Independence trophy during his last coaching stint as LCS coach told this paper that he is confident that this will finally be the year that he wins the top4 title.
“This competition has eluded me since I became a coach and I’m adamant that I will get to lift it this year,” said Mokhothu. “It was not easy to get to the final and had to win the semi-final match on the penalties”.
He praised his team for withstanding the pressure and showing character to book a final in penalty kicks lottery.
“We are just happy to have secured a semi-final place and we will go all out to dry and win the final,” said Mokhothu. Bantu coach, Motlatsi Shale also praised his team after a comfortable 2-0 over LDF to secure a place in the final. “The players worked hard and played as a unit to get to the final,” Shale said.
“LDF is always a tough team, but we were the better team and deserved to get to the final,” he said. Shale said they will go back to regroup and prepare for the do or die and prepare for a final against their rivals Lioli who beat them for the league title last season.
Players to watch in the final:
Tšoanelo Koetle: The ever hard working Lioli anchorman had an outstanding game in the semi-final against LCS and scored the first penalty to help his team reach the final of the Independence trophy for the first time since winning it in 2010. He will have a big role to play this afternoon if his team is to win the competition.
Tšepo Seturumane: Last season top goal scorer, Seturumane, has had a slow start to the new season, but remains a threat for any team as he is very lethal in front of goals and will be expected to play a major role in today’s final.
Tlali Maile: The hard working Bantu captain had a good game alongside Thabo Masualle who joined the Mafeteng based team in the pre-season.
He led by example and scored his team’s second goal to reach the final.
His central defence partner, Masualle, will face his former team for the first time in this afternoon final since joining Bantu for a fee believed to be in the M40 000 before the start of the season.
Tšoloane Mosakeng: Bantu last season player of the season has become an integral member of the team and along with the likes of Maile will be hoping to win their third successive Independence Cup gold medal having won the last two edition of the competition.
The midfield general was man of the match in the semi final win over LDF and will once again be expected to be at his best as his team aim to make record three Independence trophies in a row.
The Independence top4 winners will walk away with M50 000 first prize money while the runners, third and fourth placed teams will get M30 000, M20 000 and
M15 000 respectively.
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