Former premier league champions Likhopo have had a decent start to the 2015/16 season and occupy second position on the 14-team table four matches into the campaign.
What surprises me Likhopo are doing this well despite losing a number of star-players, head-coach Motheo Mohapi and his assistant Wright Mofoka, during the offseason.
I was one of those people expecting the team, popularly known as the Red Army, to struggle because of these developments at the club.
However, the Maseru-based outfit is one of four teams unbeaten in the Vodacom Premier League this season although one might argue it is early days yet.
Still, what I have realised is most of the players who left the team had egos and were not committed to helping Likhopo be a force they used to be.
These were the players nurtured by the club’s late owner, Bishop Molatoli, and somehow felt they had outgrown the team.
Among the players who left were Salebone Lekhooa and Kananelo Makhooane, who are now at Lioli.
Both had shown so much potential when they started their careers under Molatoli who passed away early last year, but somehow lost the hunger to compete, hence their decision to leave and start afresh in TY.
Because they were the captains of the team, it goes without saying the two had so much influence at Likhopo, and developed big egos as a result. Unfortunately, it appeared this affected the whole teams as the young players looked up to them.
It’s true Lekhooa and Makhooane are still good players and I have no doubt we will see the best of them once again now that they have moved to Lioli.
But I maintain their decision to go did Likhopo a wealth of good, judging by the team’s results and the way they are going about their business on the pitch.
Now that results are coming without these players as well as the suspended Thapelo Tale, I hope for the sake of his talent, management will allow the striker to leave and join a team of his choice.
Tale has been one of the most important players for our national team in recent times and freezing him out of Likhopo will not benefit anyone at the end of the day.
Tale was hit with a six-month suspension after training with Bantu during the offseason without Likhopo’s permission. The club insists the player erred because he still has a contract with them, hence the punishment.
Unfortunately, not all players have the attitude of Bokang ‘Lefty’ Mothoana, who has remained loyal to his childhood club.
Mothoana could have easily moved to any of the country’s big guns, but the national team playmaker is very committed to Likhopo. Very few players have remained loyal to one club for such a long time, but Mothoana continues to give his all each time he dons the team’s colours.
One striking thing about ‘Lefty’ is he has remained humble despite being such a big figure in local football and Likhopo management should be grateful for the player’s level-headedness.
But it’s not very often that you find players of his character, and like I said, Likhopo should consider themselves lucky to have him.
Meanwhile, credit should go to new coach, Shalane Lehohla, who has hit the ground running since taking over the hot seat at Likhopo.
This is a man who has never been head-coach of a premier league team before. Lehohla learnt his coaching ropes LCS where he was an assistant as well as handled Masheshena’s youth teams.
I’m always happy to see young coaches succeeding as this increases options when the authorities are seeking quality technical staff for our various national teams.
I’m also happy for Lehlomela Ramabele, who has already scored five goals this season.
Ramabele looked very frustrated last season, but the new environment now prevailing at Likhopo is working wonders for him and hopefully, he will continue to get the goals and find his way back into the national side, Likuena.