Lifofane bathes in glory

Lifofane bathes in glory

MANTS’ONYANE – The skies were partly cloudy with a mild wind and the traffic jam was already unbearable despite it being early morning as fans dressed in different regalia fought to make their way into the grounds.
It was the sporting extravaganza in Bocheletsane, and was finals day of the MGC Top 4 which featured four of the Econet Premier League’s most impressive sides this season.

First up was Linare and Lifofane and the winner would face either Matlama or Bantu in the final.
The fans sang at the top of their voices and not even the long tiring distance to Mantšonyane was going to stop them.
The final ended up being between Lifofane and Matlama and it was a depiction of the famous biblical story of David and Goliath – it was a small team against a Premier League giant armed with trophy success and history.
Lifofane went into the final with nothing but confidence and they were happy to be underestimated. They trusted their skill, bravery and pace to defeat Matlama and it worked almost to perfection for them.

In the league Lifofane had taken points against big opponents and since they got promoted at the beginning of the season Matlama had not beaten them.
After the finalists were confirmed, there was a growing sense of belief amongst Matlama supporters that they would come back to Maseru with a trophy.

Perhaps Matlama had a bone to pick with the organisers and the Premier League, because they played the final merely two hours after knocking Bantu out. But, despite the circumstances, there was a feeling Matlama would come through regardless.
The stadium was divided into two, Bantu fans backing Lifofane to save their blushes while Linare fans, on the other hand, were on Matlama’s side.

Both sides were hoping their allies would do them a favour. Unlike in the Bible though, where David only needed one precise hit to knock Goliath out, Lifofane needed two, regulation time and a chance on penalties.
Lifofane made their intentions clear in the first ten minutes that they were not a walk in the park as they got behind Matlama on more than two occasions but could not find a finishing touch to put the ball behind the back of the net.
It was the story of the first half. About four clear-cut goalscoring opportunities were created by the Butha-Buthe side but they failed to capitalise on them. Matlama’s defence could not keep up with the pace and speed that Lifofane were coming with.

The frustrations amongst Lifofane’s fans grew as many felt they could be punished for the chances they were missing.
However, ‘Tse Putsoa’ didn’t even come close to threatening Lifofane goalkeeper Tšilo Tšilo, instead it was Monaheng Ramalefane who had a busier game and was called on many times to rescue the defending champions.
Matlama’s head coach Charles Manda felt the final came too soon for his players after playing a high intensity match against Bantu which required them to use lots of energy and do a lot of running. They could not do it for the second time in just a couple of hours.

In the middle of the park the game was passing by Matlama playmakers Mabuti Potloane and Kefuoe Mahula because they were on their last legs.
Potloane could barely sprint to attack while Mahula kept hoofing the ball forward making things easier for Lifofane to deal with.
‘Tse Putsoa’s vulnerability on set plays was exposed in the semi-finals and it seemed Lifofane did their homework as they came close to scoring via set-plays. When the two teams could not be separated on the field after 90 minutes, the winner had to be decided through a penalty shootout.

This one was difficult to predict as both teams had been good at penalties this season. Ultimately Lifofane came on top winning 3-0 as Matlama missed all their penalties.
As soon as the final penalty went in and the Premier League new boys were confirmed the winners of M195 000 first prize, the fans invaded the pitch to celebrate with the Lifofane players and the technical team.

It was more than just a trophy to them; it was a reward for their hard work and a vote of confidence to other small clubs in the country that it is possible, winning a major trophy can be done.
It doesn’t matter what happens to Lifofane from now on, they have written their names in the hearts of football fans in the country.

Although the MGC Top 4 was only launched last year and Matlama won the inaugural tournament, no one could have predicted any team besides the bigger sides would win, let alone a newly-promoted team.
Lifofane have been a revelation in the Econet Premier League and have proved to be no pushovers.

When Bafokeng Mohapi left in January to join the technical team of the national team, Likuena, the club insisted they were looking for someone to continue the job he had already started.
Lifofane went to South Africa to find Thomas Chabalala who has continued the pressing and fast counterattacking football the club was playing.
This trophy is the reward Lifofane deserve and hopefully more teams will be inspired by their historic achievement.

Tlalane Phahla


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