LEAGUE champions, Bantu, this week added the Independence Cup to their trophy cabinet when they snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against a determined and perhaps unfortunate LCS in Sunday’s final at Setsoto Stadium in Maseru.
It looked like LCS would finally break their six year trophy drought when a beautiful strike from long range from Khethisa Masenyetsa put them ahead midway into the second half.
But it was not to be for Mpitsa Marai and his charges when Tsietsi Khooa equalised for A Matso Matebele in optional time, setting the stage for Bantu’s dramatic penalty shoot-out victory.
It was yet another final lost for Masheshena as LCS who had three of their penalties saved by goalkeeper Thabo Selisa in a match-winning winning performance that staked his claim for Bantu’s number one jersey.
I must however, say that I am thoroughly impressed with how Marai has transformed LCS into an entertaining and highly competitive side.
It was surely heart-breaking to have dominated their more fancied rivals and only to concede with virtually the last kick of the match and lose on penalties.
LCS played good football over two days and beating the-then defending champions, Lioli and dominating Bantu, showed that they now deserve to be again counted now among the best in the country.
They came up against a Bantu side that showed a never-say-die attitude and fought to the last whistle to equalize and snatch yet another major trophy four months after winning the league title.
Coach, James Madidilane and his charges deserve credit for turning the contest in their favour.
A Matšo Matebele were not at their fluent best as their leading lights, Hlompho Kalake and Litšepe Marabe were uncharacteristically off-form and were consequently substituted.
But it is a measure of the balance and all-round maturity in their ranks that they were able to turn to other players including goalkeeper Selisa for their salvation.
The young goalkeeper showed character by assuming the responsibility for taking the first penalty against the experienced Sam Ketsekile.
Selisa saved three penalties to hand his side the trophy.
I must confess that I have been one of the doubters as far as Selisa is concerned particularly as Bantu will be participating in the Africa Champions League.
But he proved me wrong and showed that he is a player for the big stage.
In the end he deserved the Goalkeeper of the Tournament award.
Ketsekile had also done well by saving a penalty the semi-final against Lioli which enabled LCS to book their place in the final.
I also think that Lindokuhle Phungulwa fully deserved the Player of the Tournament accolade.
I was also impressed with the LCS duo Sepiriti Malefane and Hopolang Mohlalefi. Any one of them might have bagged the best’s accolade had they been on the winning side.
The biggest disappointments were Lioli who came into the tournament as the defending champions but lost all their matches to finish in fourth place.
From a distance, it would seem that all is not well in the Tse Nala and they were a pale shadow of the team we have become accustomed to. They need to quickly go back to the drawing board and rectify their shortcomings.
As for Kick4Life, they appeared to suffer from stage fright in the semi-final match against Bantu, especially in the first half where they conceded two goals. By the time they got their groove back in the second half and pulled a goal back, it was a little-too-late as Bantu clung on to dear life to see out the match.
They were a better side in Sunday’s third and fourth play-off where they edged Lioli 2-1 to take bronze.
All in all, It was two days of good football and hats-off to Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Bank Lesotho by increasing the sponsorship package.