MASERU — Bantu on Sunday beat Lioli 4-3 on penalties to clinch their third successive Independence Cup trophy in a match played a Setsoto Stadium.
The Mafeteng-based team, enjoying a new lease of life under the mentorship of Matlatsi Shale, came from a goal behind to win the match on penalties after Tšoanelo Koetle’s stunning free kick had put Lioli in the lead in the first half.
Tsebang Lebata, lured from Liphakoe during pre-season and enjoying a fine scoring form, broke the hearts of the Lioli faithful when he fired an equalising goal just 10 minutes to the final whistle.
The former Lesotho international who left Likhopo to join Bantu during the pre-season told this paper that he was delighted to have led the Mafeteng-based side to a historic third Independence trophy, barely four months after being given the responsibility to head the team.
“These are exciting times for all of us at the club, but you have to give credit to the players for not giving up when they were a goal down,” Shale said.
“I told the players not to give up during the half time break and I credit them for not giving up despite having suffered an early goal.
Shale also praised the management of the club for believing in his abilities as the right man to lead Bantu to success.
Bantu president, John Leuta, said he does not have the right words to describe the excitement in Mafeteng after the team successfully defended the title.
“I’m the happiest man alive, these are exciting times for me as the president of the club to see everyone involved with this team smiling,” Leuta said.
“It is only fitting that I give credit to the players, the technical team and the supporters for playing a role in winning the third Independence trophy in a row,” said Leuta.
The Bantu boss said the success boils down to good planning from the leadership of the team up to the playing squad.
“We kept it simple and played by the rules in each of the three years that we won the competition,” said Leuta.
“This has been the recipe for our success and it could lead us to more trophies if we continue to plan properly,” he said.
He said the target is to win the Top8 tournament scheduled for early next year.
Lioli goalkeeper, Mohau Kuenane, who had been classy throughout the competition walked away with the best goalkeeper’s award winning M1 000.
Mokete Lebalang was named the referee of the tournament also walking away with M1 000.