Likhopo’s down­ward spi­ral con­tin­ues

Sunday Express - - SPORT -

IT never rains but pours for two-time premier league cham­pi­ons Likhopo who made a night­mar­ish start to the 2016/2017 soc­cer sea­son.

Last week Likhopo went down 0-2 to LCS in a mid-week en­counter be­fore be­ing thumped 1-4 by Li­oli on Sun­day to con­tinue their poor run in a sea­son their fans would want to for­get in a hurry.

As if that was not enough, team man­ager Qa­mako Ma­hao re­signed a fort­night ago.

And true to Mur­phy’s Law which states that ev­ery­thing that can go wrong will cer­tainly go wrong, Matekane Group of Com­pa­nies (MGC) have also MGC is out it means our play­ers will not be get­ting those al­lowances”.

“The sad part is some play­ers were sur­viv­ing solely on the al­lowances but on a pos­i­tive note we have been talk­ing with other com­pa­nies and some have promised some­thing.

Our play­ers were very un­der­stand­ing when we told them the news and they agreed to fo­cus on their work on the pitch to en­sure the team does not col­lapse,” she said.

“I can­not say it is be­cause we are not play­ing well be­cause MGC made it clear that they did not have money this year,” she said, adding, “but then again it is wor­ry­ing that the team is in the po­si­tion that it is in now so we all have to work hard to get out of this”.

She also con­firmed that the team man­ager Qa­mako Ma­hao also re­signed a fort­night ago but re­fused to give de­tails.

MGC Mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer ‘Mapeka Polane con­firmed they had ter­mi­nated the spon­sor­ship due to fi­nan­cial chal­lenges.

“Re­mem­ber the spon­sor­ship was ini­tially for two years but the two par­ties rene­go­ti­ated and we agreed on an­other one year which came to an end in Septem­ber.

“Un­for­tu­nately we will not be re­new­ing the deal be­cause the com­pany is also fac­ing fi­nan­cial chal­lenges,” Polane said.

She said apart from with­draw­ing sup- de­cided to pull the plug on their spon­sor­ship deal with the club which was worth M3 mil­lion over three years.

And who would blame them in light of the team’s woe­ful per­for­mances in the last three sea­sons? I can­not say I am sur­prised. Good per­for­mances usu­ally help teams to se­cure good spon­sor­ship and given Likhopo’s mis­er­able run, one could say that they had it com­ing for a long time.

Likhopo was formed in 1995 by the late Bishop Mo­la­toli and gained pro­mo­tion to the premier league in 2003.

Theirs be­came a fairy­tale as it only took them just two sea­sons port for Likhopo, they had also put other projects on hold “as we are try­ing to get back on our feet and be sta­ble again”.

“We have a new air­line and that is one rea­son we need to fo­cus on mak­ing money first then per­haps we can con­tinue with Likhopo or maybe with other teams”.

She said it was ex­pen­sive to run the air­line which had not started mak­ing prof­its. to land their first league ti­tle which they suc­cess­fully de­fended the fol­low­ing sea­son.

Af­fec­tion­ately known as the Red Army, Likhopo soon ac­quired a rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing

qual­ity play­ers and right now al­most ev­ery premier league team boasts of play­ers that were groomed by Likhopo.

We are talk­ing about a team that sent four play­ers Neo Makama, Tefo Maipato, Dlomo Mon­aphathi and Katleho Moleko to the Or­lando Pi­rates de­vel­op­ment side in South Africa in 2000.

The likes of Bokang Mothoana and Thapelo Tale also came through their ranks to play out­side the coun­try.

But that seems to have been an­other life­time and the present, sad re­al­ity is that as we ap­proach the end of the first round of the 2016/2017 cam­paign, Likhopo are perched pre­car­i­ously on sec­ond from the bot­tom with only two points sep­a­rat­ing them from base­ment club Butha-Buthe War­riors.

This is must be wor­ry­ing to Likhopo man­age­ment as their team has reg­is­tered only one win in 10 matches, draw­ing one and los­ing eight and draw ones be­fore yes­ter­day’s match against Rovers.

Be­sides back to back league ti­tles, their tro­phy cab­i­net has housed the Top4, Top8 and Vo­da­com Spec­tac­u­lar tro­phies.

But Likhopo has not been at its best since Mo­la­toli passed on in Jan­uary 2014 and they have not man­aged a top four fin­ish.

The team was taken over by Mo­la­toli’s widow fondly known as ‘M’e Queen but the team has never been the same.

This is was one of the teams that seemed to be on the verge of turn­ing pro­fes­sional as they started pay­ing their play­ers monthly al­lowances.

But that could soon be his­tory if the spon­sor goes ahead with the planned pull out and I do not see them at­tract­ing an­other big spon­sor any­time soon given their po­si­tion on the league ta­ble.

Likhopo striker Lehlomela Ram­a­bele.

Likhopo will have to look for an­other spon­sor af­ter MGC did not re­new their con­tract.

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