MASERU — Lioli skipper Thabo Masualle is urging his side to remain focused after Tse Nala won the Nthane Brothers Holdings Independence Cup on Monday.
The three-day tournament was played at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and was contested by last season’s top four teams in the Vodacom Premier League – Matlama, Lioli, LMPS and LDF.
Tse Nala finished top of the round-robin league thanks to Matlama’s 2-0 win over LMPS on Monday which had Lioli supporters cheering Tse Putsoa for possibly the first and last time.
Lioli continued what is turning out to be the most successful period in the club’s history bringing all night celebrations to Teyateyaneng.
But speaking after lifting the trophy Masualle warned against getting overexcited saying the league was the biggest prize.
“We have to take the league that is the most important trophy,” Masualle told the Lesotho Times amongst popping champagne bottles on Monday.
“It’s a big achievement for the whole team,” Masualle added. “But from now we have to focus. We are looking at the league and our next match on the weekend.”
Lioli started the Independence Cup campaign on a low note with a loss to LMPS but bounced back with impressive victories over Matlama on Sunday and LDF on Monday.
The triumph ended a period of poor performances in cup competitions where Tse Nala were knocked out early in the MGC Supa 8, the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular and the Top Four last season.
Masualle said the decisive change was they were more clinical in front of goals.
“What changed is that we scored goals,” Masualle said.
“In the first game (against LMPS) we played well but we just couldn’t convert chances.”
On Saturday Lioli host Likhopo in the Vodacom Premier League in what is sure to be a carnival atmosphere and a win would see Lioli go to the top of the league if other results go their way.
“To the fans that were not here (at the Independence Cup), they have missed out,” Masualle said.
“But we hope they come to the ground in numbers because our aim to make them happy.”
Things are likely to be less noisy at Old Europa where LMPS host Swallows.
Simunye had gone into the last day of the Independence Cup in pole position after beating Lioli on the first day and then drawing with LDF on Sunday.
But a 2-0 loss to Matlama scuppered their dreams of a fifth cup crown in three years.
LMPS coach Lelia Makubekube said Simunye were now focused on the league and getting their season’s campaign back on track.
LMPS find themselves at the bottom of the table, winless in their first three matches.
“From here we go back to the league. We are finished with the Top Four, we have an important game on the weekend,” Makubekube said after his side’s loss to Matlama.
In other matches on Saturday league leaders LDF will look to get over their Independence Cup disappointment with a win over Lerotholi while two unbeaten sides Bantu and Joy clash in Hlotse.
On Sunday league champions Matlama make the journey across Maseru to face LCS at the Central Prison.
Both teams will be looking to kick-start their seasons after slow starts which see Tse Putsoa lying in seventh place and Masheshena ninth.
Saturday: Lioli vs Likhopo (Teyateyaneng), LMPS vs Swallows (Old Europa), Joy vs Bantu (Hlotse), LDF vs Lerotholi (Ratjomose)
Sunday: LCS vs Matlama (Central Prison), Linare vs Mphatlalatsane (Hlotse), Mabeoana vs Maduma (Matsieng)