THE battle lines have been drawn and football fans can expect a mouth-watering encounter as Bantu will attempt to defend their Independence Top4 crown against Lioli this afternoon at Setsoto Stadium.
Lioli were the first to book their spot in the final with a 2-0 victory over hapless Matlama. Tumelo Makha and Switberth Kum weighed in with the goals in both halves of a first semifinal of the double header that was played yesterday at Setsoto Stadium.
Bantu also booked their place in the final with a comfortable 2-0 win over LDF. Hlompho Kalake netted from the spot in the dying minutes of the first half before Litšepe Marabe extended the lead for the Mafeteng outfit in the second stanza.
The independence tournament is bankrolled by Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank. The winners will walk away M200 000 richer while the first runners up will pocket M100 000. The third and fourth placed teams will each get M70 000 and M50 000 respectively.
Bantu coach James Madidilane was happy man following his charges’ disappointing performances in the league.
“We started on the back foot in the league but I am glad that we are on the front foot. In the last three matches we have been creating chances and it is good that we converted them today. This means that game by game we are getting better and for now I am still pleased with what my charges are offering,” Madidilane said.
He said the Lioli match would be a different ball game from the LDF game and his team would not allow yesterday’s win to get to their heads.
“Fortunately, we prepared to play two matches and I must say that tomorrow (this afternoon) it is going to be a different game and we have to be focused. We have to make sure that today’s (yesterday) results don’t get to our heads because Lioli are not going to be pushovers,” Madidilane said.
The two teams will be meeting for the second time this season after Lioli got better of Bantu in the Econet Premier League winning 1-0 last month.
But Lioli coach Lehlohonolo Thotanyana said today’s will be a different match.
“What we did last time might not be applicable tomorrow so it is going to be a different ball game altogether and we won’t be carried away by that win,” Thotanyana said.
He added that it will be important for them to win the tournament to boost his charges’ confidence as his side had “average players” compared to previous seasons.
“Last season we didn’t win anything and I must admit it is important for us to at least clinch this cup. Look this is just an average team and it will mean a lot for them to win this tournament in terms of boosting their confidence,” he said, adding he was however worried about his side’s lack of consistency.
“If you look at Matlama it was a match of two halves and we gave them the second half. That is the only thing worrying me about this team because we look to be always dropping in the second half of the match but if we can maintain our consistence and our physical levels against Bantu, we can come out with a good result,” concluded Thotanyana.
Today’s proceedings will kick-off with the third and fourth place play-off between Matlama and LDF at the same venue.