Bell tolls for Likhopo

Sunday Express - - SPORT -

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.

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