Bantu overcame their poor start to the 2015/16 premier league season by winning the 2015 Independence Cup on Sunday following a 15-14 penalty shootout victory over bitter rivals Lioli.
A Matšo Matebele reached the final after eliminating LCS the previous day in the semi-final, also on penalties, while Lioli edged Matlama 2-1 in the other semi.
The spot-kick marathon on its own tells it all—that this was a competitive affair and none of the finalists were going to surrender without putting up a desperate fight.
However, at the end of the day, I think Bantu deserved the title as they held their nerve twice to prevail against a steely LCS and an equally determined if not skillful Tse Nala on Sunday.
To say this was a remarkable turnaround in fortune for Bantu would be an understatement as this was a team going through a bad patch, and had just fired head-coach Katiso Mojakhomo for poor results.
The interesting thing is Bantu’s revival came against Lioli two weeks ago, beating the previously unbeaten league champions 3-1 at Setsoto Stadium. Sunday’s shootout win means A Matšo Matebele completed a double over their bitter rivals, and to make the victory even sweeter, the Mafeteng giants claimed the M110 000 first prize money, which I believe is a tidy sum for two days’ work.
Credit should go to caretaker coach Caswell Moru and his fellow technical department members, and of-course, the players who managed to turn around their fortunes inside one week.
For Lioli players and their coach, Mosholu ‘Shoes’ Mokhothu, I am sure they are gutted to have lost twice inside two weeks against the same foe, and also having been the form-team. Tse Nala had been unbeaten seven matches into the season, until the 1 November loss.
As for Matlama, a lot had been expected of the team in the independence tournament, but they failed to live up to expectations.
Tse Putsoa have been playing a very youthful squad since Moses Maliehe took over the coaching reins at the start of the season and maybe they needed a bit of experience in this knockout tournament.
Meanwhile, among the players who impressed during the tournament was Bantu striker, Lazola Tjokotjokoane.
The South African striker was named Player of the Tournament, after his two goals ensured Bantu lifted the silverware.
But not only did Tjokotjokoane impress in this tournament—the powerful forward has been consistently good for his team, prompting calls by the football public for the player to be persuaded into taking up Lesotho citizenship so he can play for the national team, Likuena.
The striker’s chances of playing for his country are very slim, but he can make it into Likuena.
There is no doubt Tjokotjokoane offers something very different to what we have in our strikers and it would not be a bad idea to offer him Lesotho citizenship.
Many countries have improved their national teams by offering citizenship to players they feel could be useful and I don’t see why we cannot do the same because we have really struggled to get goals at the highest level.
But all in all, I think the two-day Independence Cup competition, also known as the Top4 tournament because it involved the top four teams from the previous premier league season, offered entertainment all the way.