|Lioli are the Top Indepedence Cup champions for 2018...|
Lioli have been crowned 2018 Top 4 Independence Cup champions after a pulsating 2-1 win over Bantu in Sunday’s final at Setsoto Stadium.
Lioli’s heroes on the day were Cameroonian striker Swithbert Kum Bin and captain Mafa Moremoholo whose goals before halftime put Tse Nala on the way to a memorable win.
The win is Lioli’s sixth Independence Cup triumph in club history and brings Tse Nala level with Matlama. Only Bantu, with seven, have more Top 4 titles than the Teyateyaneng giants.
Tse Nala came into Sunday’s final on a high after an impressive 2-0 win over Matlama in Saturday’s semi-finals and their confidence showed early.
Lehlohonolo Thotanyana’s charges were the more purposeful side as Bantu struggled to gain a foothold in the game.
Lioli’s left-wing combination Tumelo Makha and Diutlwileng Molefe, in particular, was causing Bantu all sorts of problems.
Another top performer for Lioli was Lekhanya Lekhanya and his superb cross in the 33rd minute found Kum to give Tse Nala a deserved lead. Five minutes later Moremoholo made it 2-0 with his second goal against Bantu in as many games after scoring the winner in a league encounter last month.
Bantu, looking to defend the crown the won last year, woke up in the second half.
They pressed Lioli back and were finally rewarded in the 83rd minute when substitute Hlompho Kalake scored from the penalty spot. But it was too little, too late as Lioli held on to give Thotanyana his first trophy since returning to Tse Nala in July.
Earlier in the day LDF took bronze after beating Matlama 4-3 in a thrilling third-place playoff.
However, the day belonged to Lioli who avenged painful Independence Cup final defeats to Bantu in the 2015 and 2013.
“We are very happy as players because we worked hard all week,” Lioli captain Mafa Moremoholo said afterwards.
“Because we beat them in the league (last month) we knew (Bantu) would come out strongly but we told ourselves after yesterday’s win (over Matlama) that, no matter what, we were going to win this game.”
“They came with a different approach in the second half. They threw everything forward because they were desperate to score a goal and for us it was just important that we should remain organised so that we don’t concede.”
Fellow goalscoring hero Kum said last month’s 1-0 league win over Bantu gave Lioli confidence despite previous cup disappointments against A Matšo Matebele.
“Based on history it’s true that Bantu had the upper hand over Lioli, but I think that was then, this is a new team I can say, and I am new into the team,” Kum said.
“Just the fact that we had the upper hand over them last time, I was very confident that we were going to come out victorious.”
In the end, Kum – who joined Lioli in August – was delighted Tse Nala held on for his first trophy in Lesotho football.
“I think that’s the game of football, sometimes you press, sometimes it’s against us you,” Kum said.
“But I think the most important thing is victory and I’m so glad we have the victory today.”
Swithbert Kum Bin
Independence Cup Results:
Lioli 2-0 Matlama
LDF 0-2 Bantu
Third-place playoff: LDF 4-3 Matlama
Final: Lioli 2-1 Bantu
Goalkeeper of the Tournament:
Jessy Matsie (Lioli)
Hlompho Kalake (Bantu)
Jane Thaba-Ntšo (Matlama)
Swithbert Kum Bin (Lioli)
Player of the Tournament:
Tumelo Makha (Lioli)