Likhopo modest in victory
Likhopo are not getting carried away despite leapfrogging Lioli into first place on the 14-team Vodacom Premier League table.
the Red Army on sunday beat Liphakoe 2-1 to maintain their unbeaten run this season and most importantly, assume first position on the table seven matches into the 2015/16 premiership campaign.
Likhopo are now the only team with a perfect record this season following five wins and two draws — an amazing turnaround in fortune for the shalane Lehohla-coached outfit which struggled for form in 2014/15.
Team manager, Qamako Mahao, has credited Lehohla for the good run, but says the coach and players are not under pressure to deliver the league title this season.
“First of all, credit should go to our coach. I think we identified a man who understands our culture and style of football, hence these good results we have enjoyed so far,” Mahao said on Tuesday.
After losing five key players at the start of the season, many pundits had predicted the team would toil this season. But seven matches into the campaign, the Red Army are one point ahead of second-placed Lioli who are on 16 points, and Mahao says he is not really surprised about the team’s impressive form. For the record, Likhopo lost Kananelo Makhooane, Salebone Lekhooa, Thuso Suping, Ntaitsane Makara, and thapelo tale in the offseason and any team would have struggled after losing such critical personnel.
“I’m not really surprised with the performance and the fact that we are top of the table,” Mahao said.
“As for the stars who left the team, I think they had become too comfortable and were now enjoying being part of the family and not working for the team. This was all because they had come through the club’s junior structures and had become too relaxed.”
However, Mahao said the new coach would not be put under pressure to win the league title but simply be asked to make Likhopo a formidable force once again. The Red Army last won the league title in 2005/6.
“We made a resolution at the start of the season that we don’t want to be an ordinary team again, but a formidable force that we used to be,” noted Mahao.
“But it’s too early to be talking about the league title because we have young players who are still going through a learning process.
“This means we will take it one game at a time without putting pressure on the coach and the players,” he said.
beaten going into the match, while Bantu had been struggling and also sacked their coach three weeks before the blood-and-thunder clash.
But at the same time, one could say Lioli were suffering from fatigue as eight of their players had been part of a busy Likuena schedule.
Yet one thing is for sure — the upcoming tournament is going to be a platform for Lioli to show that they are still the best team in the land.
Bantu, on the other hand, will be hoping to prove they are back at their best after dominating the independence tournament over the last four years.
The other team which is going to be under the microscope this weekend is Lcs.masheshena have lacked consistency under their former player, Mpitsa Marai, who took over as head-coach at the start of the current season.
But at the same time, four victories in seven matches is not bad for a man in his first assignment as headcoach of a premier league side.
LCS have also reinforced their side with a few quality players such as Makara Ntaitsane and Motiki Mohale, who joined the team at the start of this campaign from Likhopo and Lerotholi Polytechnic, respectively, so they will not be pushovers this weekend.
the Likuena duo are part of a very experienced Masheshena side that can beat any team on their day.
So all in all, it’s going to be an exciting weekend of football as the giants of the domestic game battle it out for the M110 000 first prize.
On a different note, I would like to congratulate Likhopo who are now top of the Vodacom Premier League and the only team still unbeaten this term.
I really never expected them to be so good this season and my hat goes off to new coach, Shalane Lehohla, management and the players, especially the revived Lehlomela Ramabele, who leads the premiership scoring charts with eight goals.
Likhopo star Bokang Mothoana (right) in action against LMPS.