Alliance Winter Challenge to warm football fans

Alliance Winter Challenge to warm football fans

Maseru – The third edition of the Alliance Winter Challenge was launched on Tuesday amidst rousing fanfare at Alliance Insurance’s headquarters in Maseru.
The annual friendly tournament first began in 2015 and has grown into the main attraction for football starved fans during the off-season.
The competition is contested by the three premier league clubs sponsored by Alliance Insurance – Matlama, Lioli and Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) – and a fourth invitee.
This year the special guest is a big one – Vodacom Premier League champions, Bantu, an announcement that sent tongues wagging amongst local fans.
Alliance Insurance public relations officer Limakatso Mokobocho said this is exactly the aim.

“The tournament’s purpose is to improve the quality of football in the country and also promote a friendly relationship between the three teams sponsored by Alliance Insurance,” Mokobocho said.
“The other purpose is to enable the teams to get the good practice they deserve, so they can go into the next season fit and ready to play. So far, this has worked profitably on our side.”
The Alliance Winter Challenge is scheduled to take centre stage on the weekend of July 29 and 30 and Bantu become the third team to be invited to the tournament.
In 2014, it was Liphakoe while last year Sundawana completed the competition’s quartet.

With Bantu set to participate in the CAF Champions League next year, Mokobocho said the Alliance Winter Challenge provides the Mafeteng giants’ first preparation for the continental showpiece.
The tournament’s reigning champions, of course, are LCS and ‘Masheshena’ communication and marketing manager Kofa Rantai vowed they will be taking the Alliance Winter Challenge seriously again.

“The tournament is important to us as it always prepares us for the challenges ahead,” he said.
“We are aware that we play this tournament before the new season starts, and it is good for us. We have to work hard so that we keep the title because we know its importance to us. We will win this cup again.”

Still, the top attraction will most likely be Bantu who won a thrilling league title race in May and are still in the joyous midst of the club’s 90th anniversary celebrations.
Bantu vice-president Molefi Lengosane said ‘A Matšo Matebele’ are delighted to be a part of this year’s Alliance Winter Challenge.
“We have accepted the request to be part of this tournament. This serves as a way of improving football in the country and what (Alliance Insurance) do for these three teams (Lioli, Matlama and LCS) is very important and we hope that God may bless them to grow even more,” Lengosane said.

The draw for the tournament was also conducted at the launch. The semi-finals on July 29 will see LCS battle Bantu while rivals Matlama and Lioli will lock horns in another intriguing tie.
The two winners will then face off the following day in the final and all games will be played at Setsoto Stadium.
There is no prize money on offer in the Alliance Winter Challenge; the winners will only take home a trophy and gold medals. However, the gate takings collected, which should be sizable given the fan bases involved, will be shared equally by the clubs.

Asked for his tournament predictions, Lengosane was clear – the cup is going to Mafeteng.
“We are now here in this tournament and this cup goes to Mafeteng without hesitation,” he said. “Bantu is now used to cups.”

Alliance Winter Tournament draw:
All games at Setsoto Stadium
Saturday, July 29
LCS vs. Bantu (13:00)
Matlama vs. Lioli (15:00)
July 30
Loser’s final (13:00)
Final (15:00)

Mohloai Mpesi

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