ALL roads lead to Setsoto Stadium this weekend for the Independence Cup Top 4 tournament where Bantu, Lioli, LCS and Kick4Life will battle for the M200 000 winner’s cheque.
Bantu and Kick4Life will kick-start the tournament and defending champions, Lioli, will take on LCS in the second semi-final. Both matches will be played on Saturday while the final will be played on Sunday.
Bantu head to the tournament as the most in-form side having won their four league games of the new season.
A Matšo Matebele have even roped in exciting youngsters, Tsietsi Motšeare and Lehlohonolo Fothoane who are setting the league alight with their exciting skills.
The duo even netted in their debut against Sefotha-fotha and surely all eyes will be on them come Saturday.
While Bantu have been firing on all cylinders in the league, they are however, likely to find a different proposition in a Kick4Life side who are rebuilding after losing a number of their key players in the off-season.
The departures of Thabiso Brown (now in Bolivia), Morapeli Lesoetsa (United States of America) and Thapelo Tale who is on a self-imposed exile have left a huge void which will be hard to fill.
The trio netted more than 30 goals last season and Kick4Life got off to a shaky start without them.
Their Player of the Season, Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana, is also out on a long-term injury.
However, Kick4Life have an experienced mentor in Leslie Notši who has reinforced the team with experienced campaigners such as Ralekoti Mokhahlane.
Mokhahlane is trying to rebuild his career after the turbulence of the last few years where his career was affected by the internal politics at former club, LCS, where he is also an employee.
Affectionately known as ‘West,’ Mokhahlane is one of the most decorated local players of the last decade and the tournament is the perfect stage to prove that he still has a lot left in his tank.
Lioli will have to be at their best to overcome a plucky LCS side who gave them a run for their money the last time the two teams met in a cup competition.
Tse Nala will be boosted by the return from injury of Tumelo Khutlang and Lekhanya Lekhanya.
The duo were outstanding when Lioli lifted the trophy last year.
Their supporters were disappointed after Lioli were held to a goalless draw by Majantja in their last league match but Tse Nala have proved time and again their pedigree in cup competitions, winning last season’s Top 4 and LNIG Top 8 tournaments.
LCS will look to experienced campaigners like Lieta Lehloka and Makara Ntaitsane as well as the free-scoring Mark Tayahim to end their trophy drought.
I have no doubt there will be fireworks this weekend given the incentives that include the winners’ purse and individual accolades.
Tournament sponsors, Metropolitan Lesotho and Standard Lesotho Bank deserve praise for their efforts to improve the standard of the game in the country.
They even gave M15 000 for Corporate Social Investment (CSI) to each of the teams to enable them to give back to the communities that support them.
All that is left is for the players to give their best and make this a tournament to remember for years to come.
The supporters should also come in big numbers to motivate their teams and also give the sponsors reason to continue injecting money into football.
It is my hope that football will emerge the winner at the end of it all.