LIOLI coach, Lehlohonolo Thotanyana, has praised his side’s never die attitude after they defeated bitter rivals, Bantu 2-1, in the final of the 2018 Independence Cup.
Swithbert Kum put Lioli ahead early in the game with Mafa Moremoholo adding the second later in the first half while Hlompho Kalake netted the consolation goal for Bantu late in the second half.
The veteran coach, who left the position of the technical director at the Lesotho Football Association (LeFA) in August to rejuvenate Tse Nala after a trophy-less 2017/18 season, said Lioli are still work in progress despite their success in the Independence Cup.
“It was all about determination and commitment shown by our club because I don’t think we have the quality that the club had two to three years,” Thotanyana said.
“We are just an average team so all we had to do was to ensure that the team works hard and targets this trophy.
“The simple reason was that you don’t know what will happen in the league being a marathon. It comes with a lot of things that might work against your targets as a coach. But the Independence Cup is just a two-day event.”
Thotanyana said they had good preparations and he feels the cohesion that they have enjoyed as a young team also worked in their favour.
“Our strategy worked and sometimes it helps when the team doesn’t have too many stars because you work as a unit and that strengthens you mentally.
“It differs from when you have a star-studded squad because you also have to work on the egos of the players which we are not worried about as compared to the previous years.
“There are few youngsters in our team who blending well into our squad and I think it’s only next season that we can talk about challenging for the league title. However, the hard work displayed by the team helped us to win the competition,” Thotanyana said.
Thotanyana said that winning the tournament just three months since returning to Tse Nala while his players swept the individual awards, will go a long way in driving their team to bigger aspirations throughout the season.
“Winning the trophy and sweeping the individuals awards has motivated our camp and going forward I think they will be motivated.
“Whatever the challenge would be, I think a lot of teams are going to prepare very well for us compared to if we didn’t win the trophy. I think most were simply underestimating us which was a mistake based on the fact that we had lost most our star players.
“We are still a work in progress but we are not as bad as people may perceive us to be. We are a team that can cause upsets for any club. Long before we played Bantu, we had already prepared our team mentally that they are as big as them.
“It’s only in recent years that you would say that they have dominated the battle between the two teams which I admit.
“Traditionally, Bantu was never a problem for Lioli and we are working to change that. The management and the supporters were worried about the hoodoo but we had to prepare our players a lot mentally,” Thotanyana said.
Independence Cup prizes
Lioli: M200 000
Bantu: M100 000
LDF: M70 000
Matlama: M50 000
Goalkeeper of the Tournament
Player of the Tournament
Tumelo Makha (M8 000)
Jesey Matsie (M6 000)
Top goal scorer (joint)
Jane Thabantšo (M2 000)
Hlompho Kalake (M2 000)
Switbeth Kum (M2 000)