THE LNIG Top8 goes to the wire this weekend as four Premier League big guns battle it-out for the M100 000 first prize.
Bantu takes on LDF in the first semi-final match on Saturday while Matlama clashes with LCS later on the day.
The winners will face each other in the final on Sunday while the semi-final losers will battle it out in a third-place play-off.
In the first match, LDF goes into the match high on confidence after a 2-1 victory over Lioli in the Econet Premier League last weekend.
Meanwhile, Bantu will be looking to bounce back following a 2-1 surprise defeat to LMPS in the league and their coach James Madidilane told this publication that winning the LNIG Top8 is their top priority.
“It’s important for us to get silverware as you have released that it is going to be very difficult to defend the league title,” Madidilane told this publication.
“That does not mean that we have thrown in the towel but with the cup competition, it’s very easy to get to the finishing line as we are left with just two games to win it.”
Madidilane, who has won three major trophies since joining Bantu almost three-years ago, said the disappointing loss to LMPS last weekend is now behind them as they are now focused on getting positive results against LDF on Saturday.
“We have put that game behind us and the focus is now on the game against LDF. The only thing we have to take from that game is not to repeat the same mistakes again especially the manner in which we conceded.
“We have to defend better. So, we want to do better in the remaining seven matches and the Top8 competition to fix all that we have not done right,” he said.
Meanwhile, Matlama coach Thabile Secker admitted that his side cannot afford to put the foot wrong in the LNIG Top8 as they want to defend their title.
The Matlama coach also stated that it would be a dream come true for him to guide Tse Putsoa to a double as they also lead the Econet Premier League table.
“When the team is playing in different competitions, it’s natural for one to aspire to do well in all by winning.
“We are the defending champions of the title and to win it again, we have to work a lot harder. But the players are motivated because they have done well in the league and it is good for our camp going into such important matches cup competitions.” he said.
Tse Putsoa were without some of their key players in the 3-0 victory over Swallows in the league on Sunday and Secker said veteran midfielder Bushy Moletsane and Mabuti Potloane will be back in the squad when they take on LCS on Saturday.
Moletsane was out serving suspension while Potloane was given time offer due to personal commitments. The club was also without first choice goalkeeper, Monaheng Ramalefane, who was given time off to recover from the long trip to and from Cape Verde with Likuena.
“Bushy was out on suspension for accumulating four yellow cards while Potloane was given time off for personal reasons but they will all be back for the cup competition along with goalkeeper, Ramalefane.
“It is going to be an important weekend for us and we will need all our best players,” Secker said.
LCS coach Mpitsa Marai, whose side is also in the running for a league title and trail Matlama by five points, told this publication that his side cannot afford to finish the 2018/19 season empty handed.
“We are in the race for the two trophies and must win one of them to finish the season with something.
“Our target is the cup competition because it’s a shorter route to success so, we must improve on the inconsistency shown in recent matches.
“We have to go all out and give a good performance to lay our hands on the trophy.”
The Masheshena gaffer stated that his side will have to dig deep to get the better of the inform Matlama side.
“Cup competitions are different from league matches and it’s a motivation to all the players.
“We now have just two games to get to the top and that by itself is a motivation to the whole team to try and get a trophy as we have lost a number of finals in recent years.
“I’m hoping that we will go in camp early to ensure that all the players are well prepared and ready for that game. We have a score to settle against Matlama because they eliminated us from the MGC cup.
“It’s going to be an interesting and entertaining game,” Marai said.
The tournament is sponsored by Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) and winners will walk away with M100 000.
The runners-up will take home M80 000 while second and third placed teams will get M60 000 and M50 000 respectively. All the quarterfinalists pocket M30 000.
LNIG Top8 semi-final fixture (Setsoto Stadium)
Bantu v LDF
Matlama v LCS