Big guns split  in Top 4 draw

Big guns split in Top 4 draw

MASERU – Rivals Matlama and Bantu avoided each other in the draw for the 2019 Independence Cup set for next weekend at Setsoto Stadium.
This year the annual showpiece will be played in the late afternoon and evening for the first time.
The trophy will also have a new champion this year after 2018 winners Lioli failed to crack the league’s top four last season.
The semi-finals will be played next Saturday with the finals the following day.

The tournament will roar into action with league champions Matlama playing last year’s fourth-placed team Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) at 4pm while Bantu, who finished second in the league, will take on Lesotho Correctional Service (LCS) in the second semi-final at 6pm.

The Independence Cup is usually held in October to coincide with Lesotho’s independence celebrations but because of delays in sponsorship it is being played in December, another first.
What hasn’t changed is that Standard Lesotho Bank remains the competition’s main sponsors.
A few more companies have also come on board to back Lesotho’s oldest cup competition and they include Metropolitan Lesotho, Builder’s City, Maluti Mountain Cement and Econet Telecom

Lesotho which also sponsors the Premier League.
The increased backing has raised the total sponsorship package to M1 million and this year’s Independence Cup champions will walk away M200 000 richer.
The runners up, meanwhile, will pocket M100 000 while the third and fourth placed sides will get M70 000 and M40 000 respectively.
Speaking on behalf of the tournament’s sponsors, Standard Lesotho Bank marketing manager Manyathela Kheleli expressed delight the Independence Cup is finally going ahead and he insisted its delay was “unavoidable”.

“We are very happy to be launching the Independence Cup. As you all know, it is coming a bit late under unavoidable circumstances. We are where we are and I am already making a plea that let’s accept that at the end of the day the tournament is happening,” Kheleli said.

“We still love football as a nation, we still love football as the sponsors and it was good to see that everyone who is involved worked hard to ensure the tournament happens,” he said.
“This year the tournament has new sponsors. Standard Lesotho Bank is still the main sponsor but now we have Metropolitan Lesotho, Econet Telecom Lesotho, Maluti Mountain Cement, and Builder’s City. We are together and we work together.”

Standard Bank’s relationship with the Independence Cup began in 2012 and during that time the competition has been monopolised by Bantu and Lioli.
“This is the eighth year Standard Lesotho Bank is supporting the tournament, we have been here with the Premier League making sure we bring Basotho the Independence Cup,” Kheleli said.
“Let’s not forget we are into this tournament because we understand that it is not just about watching football, it is a big tournament because it connects us to the independence of our country.”
“Our sponsorship is M1 million for the tournament to take place and with that you will remember last year we increased the prize money on average with about 70 percent, and we will still be able to maintain that standard.

“The winning team will still get M200 000, the second team M100 000, third place M70 000 and the last one will get M40 000. There are also prize monies for individual awards,” Kheleli added.
Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) chairman Ikarabelle Sello said the league knocked on the doors of several companies and he is happy with those that came on board to help stage the Independence Cup.

Sello said the league would be “nothing” without the independence Cup as it has become one of the country’s signature sporting events.
“Standard Bank promised us that this is their tournament and they will try by all means that it continues,” Sello said.

“I thank the companies that helped us. As you see today there is Maluti Mountain Cement and Econet said because they already sponsoring the league they want to be involved as well,” he added.
“(Next week) Saturday the tournament will start at 4pm, that will be the first game, and the second game will be at 6pm. It means there is money that we will have to part ways with to pay for the lights at the stadium and that money is coming from the companies. Thank you so much for your support.”

Independence Cup individual awards:
Top scorer (M6 000)
Man of the match (M12 000 for four games)
Player of the tournament (M8 000)
Goalkeeper of the tournament (M6 000)
Referee of the tournament (M8 000,
includes two assistant referees)

Fixtures:
Saturday (Setsoto Stadium)
Matlama vs. LDF (16:00)
Bantu vs. LCS (18:00)
Sunday
Third place play-off (14:00)
Final (16:00)

Tlalane Phahla

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