Likhopo meltdown disconcerting

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Mikia Kalati

THE situation has gone from bad to worse for former premier league champions Likhopo who suffered their sixth defeat in eight games going down 0-2 to Sundawana over the weekend.

Not that I expected them to win the league this season, but winning just once in eight games is certainly a new low for the Red Army who only a decade ago were premiership standard bearers, winning back-to-back league titles.

This is the same team that has produced and shaped the careers of many great young players who went on to represent the country at the highest level and also caught the attention of international scouts.

Tlali Maile, Bokang “Lefty” Mothoana, Katleho Moleko, Tefo Maipato, the late Sello “Scalo” Muso, Tumelo Khutlang and Thapelo Tale are some of the names that came through the ranks and enabled Likhopo to become a force to be reckoned with.

Our national under-20 side Makoanyane XI’s qualification for the Africa Youth Championships in 2005 and 2011 owed a great deal to Likhopo who contributed no less than seven players each to both squads.

That tells a story of a team that once thrived on young talent and I cannot say for certain whether the decline had to do with the passing of the club owner Bishop Molatoli in 2014.

Molatoli was a football man who was well known for his exceptional eye for young talent.

It is also very difficult to point fingers at Tšepo Hlojeng who resigned as head coach of the team on Monday just three months into the job.

It would seem the damage had already been done by the time he was appointed coach at the start of the season.

I submit that the management dismally failed to address the real issues that led to the alarming freefall in the team’s performance over the last few seasons.

I still maintain that getting rid of club veterans such as Mothoana, who is now at Kick4Life, was a big mistake.

Apart from playing for Union Sportive Monastiriene in Tunisia, Lefty had dedicated his career to Likhopo, a team that made him a household name in the country and beyond.

Even if the club wanted to rebuild their squad with young blood, I feel that Mothoana still had a lot to offer to Likhopo.

He has proved that he still has a lot left in his tank since reuniting with his former national team mentor Leslie Notši at league leaders Kicks4Life.

I am sure that by now management has realised that getting rid of the experienced players who came through the ranks of the club was a mistake.

What they need to do going forward is to ensure the team is stable off the field by desisting from their habit of chopping and changing coaches- something that has been evident over the last five seasons.

As a result of their poor form, Likhopo are second from bottom in the league standings and hopefully they will turn it around before it is too late.

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