Bell tolls for Likhopo
THE Vodacom Premier League has reached its climax and after this weekend’s round of fixtures the teams will each be left with just one match to play before the curtain comes down on what has been an eventful and highly entertaining 2016/17 soccer season.
Perhaps by the end of this weekend’s fixtures, the title and relegation battles would have been decided or perhaps the action will go right up to the last day but whatever the outcome, there is no denying that this has been a fantastic 10 months of beautiful football with all the evidence of hard work and commitment from the players and technical teams.
Teams are fighting for different positions; Bantu and Lioli are involved in a two horse race for the championship while Rovers and Likhopo are locked in a survival battle.
In between, there are other battles for top four and top eight finishes.
So far the only certainty is that Butha-Butha Warriors will be playing in the lower league next season. It remains to be seen who of Rovers and Likhopo will join them.
Affectionately known as the Dynamites, Rovers headed into their weekend match (against Matlama) sitting on third from the bottom with 16 points.
Likhopo who played Lioli, were two points behind Rovers.
Likhopo who have suffered other challenges including the loss of their four years sponsorship deal with Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) in September 2016, faced their greatest test in their quest to retain their top flight status.
Lioli also needed maximum points to take the title race to the last day and even win it for the third season on the trot.
Likhopo just had to win to retain a mathematical chance of survival. They would only leapfrog Rovers out of the relegation zone if the latter lost to Matlama.
It’s highly unlikely there would be many people placing their bets on a Likhopo victory and a draw would appear to be the best they could get from this match.
But then again legendary former Brazilian national team coach Tele Santana once said “the ball is round and it can roll anywhere”. Football is football anything is possible.
Who would have thought that Lioli would lose to Rovers in the first round?
It happened although the National University of Lesotho side subsequently paid a heavy price after being hammered 5-1 in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago.
On paper, Matlama are the bigger side and would be expected to walk over Rovers but I don’t see that happening due to their recent disappointing performances in the league.
This leaves me to say that we could well be witnessing the end of an era this weekend if the Red Army, as Likhopo are popularly known, lose to Lioli and Rovers beat Matlama.
It would be a sad day for the late Bishop Molatoli’s ‘baby’ that was formed in the mid-1990s.
LIKHOPO defender Rapelang Luka (front) fights for the ball with Lioli winger Tumelo Khutlang (left) during a premier league match played yesterday at LCS Ground.