By Moorosi Tsiane
MASERU-LCS and LDF attempts to reach the final of this year Independence cup failed to materialise as the two government teams went down to Lioli and Bantu respectively during the semi-final matches played at Setsoto stadium yesterday.
The Correctional Services side who have been struggling with form in the league matches dished out a performance of their life as they held the league champions, Lioli, to a goalless draw forcing the match to be decided on penalties.
Masheshena, as the Correctional Service side is affectionately known, failed to concede a goal during the 90 minutes and could have clinched a late win over their star studded opponents who having been enjoying a good run of form.
Lioli goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, who has reclaimed his first choice position in goals after recovering from a knee injury made a brilliant save in the dying minutes of the game to deny LCS a place in today’s final.
Tse Nala enjoyed better ball possession for the better part of the first stanza of the match, but were very wasteful in attack as the league’s top goal scorer, Nkoto Masoabi, alongside last season top goal scorer, Tšepo Seturumane failed to put the ball in the back of the net.
LCS welcomed back their star midfield, Ralekoti Mokhahlane from injury, but match fitness worked against him as he fell short against a talented Lioli midfield pairing compromising of Bushy Moletsane and Tšoanelo Koetle.
Things went from bad to worse for the talented midfielder as he missed a penalty during the spot kick which eventually saw his team losing to Lioli. Lioli coach, Mosholu “Shoes” Mokhothu meanwhile made a number of changes in the second half in search for the winning goal.
The Lioli mentor made three changes introducing Motlalepula Mofolo, Jeremiah Kamele and Bafokeng Mosala taking out Lekhanya Lekhanya, Montoeli Sonopo and Masoabi. The changes failed to bear fruits as the match ended goalless and immediately headed to the penalty lottery.
Lanky defender, Poloko Mohale, Ralekoti Mokhahlane, Lieta Lehloka and Mokoena Motšoari all missed their spot kicks. Lioli goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, continued with his fine form saving two penalties to help his team advance to the final where they face their rivals Bantu.
The Mafeteng based team found it much easier against LDF registering a goal in each half of the match for a 2-0 win over the Army side. Bantu wrapped up the match early in the second half as Tlali Maile rose high to head in Hopolang Mohlalefi’s corner for his team second goal of the match.
Mokhothu was the happy man after the match and told this paper that they want to win the Independence trophy.
“I’m very happy that we eliminated LCS to reach the final,” Mokhothu said. He said the biggest task ahead of the final is to prepare his team mentally for the battle against their rivals who will be eyeing revenge after Lioli beat them to the contest for the league title last year.
“I’m looking forward to helping the team add this competition to our trophy cabinet. He said his players will have to double their efforts against a Bantu side that has also been enjoying a good run of results. Bantu coach, Motlatsi Shale, was on cloud nine as he guided Bantu to their third successive final of the Independence tournament just four months after taking the job from Caswell Moru.
“The players did well throughout the match and were able to rise to the occasion,” Shale said. “I know there are a lot of expectations from our fans, but we will try to calm down and prepare for the final,” he said.
Shale who joined Bantu before the start of the 2013/14 season said he was happy that his team has continued to maintain their unbeaten run. “I think there has been a lot of improvement in the recent weeks as we continue to know each other better as a team,” he said.
Lioli goalkeeper, Mohau Koenane and Bantu midfielder, Tšoloane Mosakeng, scooped man of the match awards in the two semi-final matches and each pocketed M1000 from the tournament sponsors, Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank.
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