Likhopo mod­est in vic­tory

Lesotho Times - - Sport - Mikia Kalati

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.

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