Likhopo’s downward spiral continues
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.