(LMPS win 3-2 after penalties)
MASERU — After being crowned the Top Four champions on Sunday, LMPS can now officially call themselves Lesotho’s Cup Kings.
The tournament, which had no official sponsor, was LMPS’s fourth major trophy in as many years.
Simunye scooped the Buddie Top 4 title in 2007, the Imperial Top 8 in 2008 and the MGC Supa 8 last August.
“There is nothing special that we do,” a delighted LMPS coach, Lelia Makubekube, told the Lesotho Times after his team’s 3-2 shootout triumph over LDF at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena.
“When it comes to cup competitions we make sure that we give ourselves time to prepare properly,” he said.
Prepared they were, and once again the foundations on which their victory was built were the willpower, work-rate and unity which have become LMPS’s trademark.
But Lady Luck was also very much on Simunye’s side during the two-day tournament.
After needing a late equaliser to force their semi-final against LCS on Saturday into penalties, LMPS were then thoroughly outplayed the next day by a surprisingly slick LDF.
For the final 20 minutes especially, Sohle-Sohle swarmed LMPS’s penalty area like possessed bees, bombarding Retselitsitsoe Moswatsi’s goals and twice hitting the woodwork.
Sello Ramakau at the other end probably should have paid an entry fee — he was a mere spectator, watching in horror as his team-mates squandered chance after chance.
LDF even took a 2-0 lead in the penalty shootout as Ramakau saved LMPS’s opening two spot-kicks.
But it was Simunye’s day.
“We are not lucky. We just work hard,” Makubekube said.
“Everyone was scared (when LDF were attacking) and I was no different.
“I think the players were a bit tired in the second half after a tough match yesterday (Saturday).”
LMPS’s hero was their rookie goalkeeper Moswatsi who was outstanding in regulation time before saving two penalties in the shootout.
“I’m very happy because I have only been with the team for four days and my teammates have accepted me and helped me,” Moswatsi, who joined Simunye from Mafeteng LMPS, told reporters after the match.
“He (Moswatsi) played very well,” his coach said. “He was the main reason we won.
“He saved us. There was a time LDF were attacking and looked like they would score.”
With this Top Four victory, Makubekube becomes one of a unique band of local coaches to have won two trophies in a single season.
Makubekube is a former Simunye player and assistant coach to Naleli Tšilo when LMPS won the Buddie Top 4 and Imperial Top 8 trophies.
Sunday’s win could spur Simunye to mount a strong challenge for the Vodacom Premier League championship.
LMPS are fifth in the league, six points behind leaders Matlama.
This Sunday they play LCS and then travel to Mohale’s Hoek next Thursday to face Majantja in a catch-up match.
“Right now we have players that are ready to work hard and who are willing to listen,” Makubekube said.
“This trophy will help us in our preparations (for the league). We are playing against LCS in the league and this result will help us a lot.”
Earlier at the Top Four tournament on Sunday, LCS beat Lioli 3-0 to claim third place in the annual competition.