The draw of the Lesotho National Insurance Group (LNIG) Top 8 competition held yesterday at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena will this year see explosive clashes between the premier league giants.
Defending champions, Lioli are in a tricky fixture against LMPS in the first quarter-final clash scheduled for February 24.
The match will be part of a double-header that will feature Matlama and Kick4Life in the opening day of the tournament.
The draw of the competition sponsored by LNIG took place yesterday at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena and will be contested by the eight Premier league teams that occupied position 1-8 during the 2016/17 league season.
The teams are Bantu, Lioli, LCS, Kick4Life, LMPS, Sky Battalion, LDF and Matlama.
Bantu who were the winners in 2015 tourney got the easiest in the draw as they will face premier league strugglers Sky Battalion while LDF will come up against LCS in another double header of quarterfinals to be played the following day.
The tournament is sponsored to the tune of M800,000 and the winner will walk away with M100, 000. A category of under-17 for all the qualifying teams will also feature in the tournament.
Speaking at the launch, the LNIG Managing Director, Ralitapole Letsoela, said as the sponsors of the two-day tournament, they were happy to continue their partnership with the Premier League Management Committee (PLMC).
“What is important is that our partnership with PLMC has continued to grow and now very strong,” Letsoela said.
He said although a few companies were investing in sport in the country, they were happy to maintain the relationship as a way of giving back to the community.
Letsoela said there is a good chance that the sponsorship will be increased next year, based on the existing good relationship with the premier league.
“We are committed to making the competition a success and have already sat down with PLMC to map a way forward on how we can improve the tournament,” the LNIG boss said.
He explained the need to ensure the re-organisation of the tournament as it also included an under 17 teams’ competition covered under the same budget.
“While this is good for the development of football, we need to look at how we can improve the arrangements, and with the partnership this good we will engage in some consultation with the PLMC with the view of reviewing the sponsorship money to make the tournament bigger and more exciting,” he said.
Also speaking at the launch, Premier League chairman, John Leuta thanked LNIG for their continued support in improving the standards of football in the country.
“As we can all see, our partnership is still going strong like when it started. The only thing that might have affected, was if did not understand each other, which is not the case as we all appreciate the importance to develop our football,” Leuta said.
As the case in the previous year, Leuta explained the prize money has not changed with winners walking away with M100 000, while each participating team will receive a soccer kit.
“In trying to promote the name of the sponsors, we wanted to have the quarter-finals played in the South and Northern parts of the country, but that did not go as planned. The matches will therefore be played in double-headers at Maputsoe DIFA Ground, as well as LCS Ground while the semi-finals and the final would be staged at Setsoto stadium,” he said.
The PLMC chairman also pleaded with the football fraternity to support and protect the brand that their league body and LNIG have built by staging yet another successful edition of the tournament in 2018.
LNIG Top 8 fixture
February 24 (Saturday
Lioli v LMPS
Matlama v Kick4Life
Sky Battalion v Bantu
LDF v LCS