FOOTBALL lovers are in for a treat this weekend when the Independence Top 4 football tournament featuring Bantu, Lioli, LCS and Kick4Life roars into life at Setsoto Stadium.
The annual two-day football fiesta, which is sponsored by Standard Lesotho Bank and Metropolitan Lesotho, gets underway on Saturday with a clash between Bantu and Kick4Life.
Defending champions Lioli will face LCS in the second semi-final.
The semi-final winners will face-off in the final on Sunday for the M200 000 winner’s cheque.
Bantu coach James Madidilane who led A Matšo Matebele to last season’s league title in his debut season, spoke of his hunger for more success with the Mafeteng outfit.
“We have prepared well for the tournament and it is another platform for us to continue winning,” Madidilane told the Lesotho Times this week.
“It will be a big thing for me to win this trophy and I know that it means a lot to the players as well. It’s the shortest route to winning a competition with just two matches to play and we have to make the best of it.
“Our approach will have to be different from the league matches as we will be coming up against a very good side with a good technical team. We are relishing the test.”
Kick4Life is appearing in the tournament for the first time after finishing fourth last season.
Their coach Leslie Notši said they expected a tough encounter with the in-form league champions.
“Bantu are a great side that has been enjoying a good run of form since the start of the season and we know it’s going to be a tough test for us.
“But we intend to win the trophy and for that to happen we need to work very hard because cup competitions are very different to league matches,” Notši said.
Meanwhile LCS coach, Mpitsa Marai, is confident that they will avenge last year’s loss to Lioli in the final.
“Our goal is to win the tournament having come close by reaching the final last season.
“We are wiser having gained a lot of experience last season and we will do what it takes to be the winners on Sunday,” Marai said, adding they were keen to end Lioli’s stranglehold over them in cup competitions.
“I think it will be a different ball game on Saturday because we want to get to the final and win the tournament.”
LCS will be without winger, Thabo Seakhoa and goalkeeper Daniel Jousse who are nursing injuries while Leboneng Moqecho is racing against time to be match fit.
For his part, Lioli coach, Halemakale Mahlaha, said his charges were brimming with confidence.
“We are very positive and the players are determined to do well for the team.
“We begin with a very tough test against an LCS side that always give us problems whenever we play them.
“We have a very experienced squad but we can only do well if they are fully committed,” he said.
The winners of the tournament will walk away M200 000 richer while the runners-up will receive M100 000.
The third and fourth-placed teams will get M70 000 and M50 000 respectively.
There are also individual prizes for the Player of the Tournament (M8 000) as well as the Top Goal Scorer and Goalkeeper of the Tournament who will each receive M6 000.
The Man of the Match in each of the four games will get M4 000.