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Give the referee a break


Moorosi Tsiane

It was yet again another feast of football last weekend with fans treated to two days of Vodacom Premier League matches played on Friday and Sunday.

Well, of course all eyes were on the country’s El Clásico between Lioli and Bantu at Setsoto Stadium on Sunday. Although the match ended goalless, it certainly lived up to its billing as the top fixture in domestic football—the equivalent of the famed El Clásico between Spanish rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The Lioli and Bantu clash has proved to be the biggest match in our league over the past four seasons and for the first time, the match ended 0-0.

Bantu had won four of the eight matches the two sides had played, with the other four ties ending in draws.

I feel the pressure that is on Lioli players and supporters when it comes to this match and there is no doubt looking at Bantu’s performance this year, they had high hopes that their team would break the hoodoo of not beating the Mafeteng-based outfit.

But as things turned out, the Teyateyaneng giants failed to beat Bantu once again.

Lioli started the match on a high and it was clear they wanted to register their first win over Bantu in four years.

But like I said, things did not go as expected and the frustrated supporters are looking for someone to blame for their team’s failings—match Ossias Koto.

But what is interesting is supporters from both sides are accusing Koto of bias.

Yet taking their frustrations on Koto is not fair to the man because he did fairly well on the day, and the supporters should just give him a break.

On the same fixture, I would like to touch on the on-field behavior of Lioli midfielder Tumelo Khutlang.

Khutlang is a very talented young player who can help Lioli win the league title this season, but I don’t think his behavior will do neither him nor Lioli any good.

In most matches I have watched him play for Lioli, the former Likhopo youngster has been a concern for me.

Named 2012/13 and 2013/14 Vodacom Premier League young player of the season, Khutlang showed such promise of becoming one of domestic football’s greatest players. But the young man has a short temper and each time he believes he has been fouled, he gestures to the referee so vigorously one of these days the protest could end in disaster.

Yet in his days at Likhopo, he was well-behaved so I think the pressure that comes with playing for Lioli is getting to him and he seriously needs help before it is too late.

Look at Barcelona’s Lionel Messi. He is one of the most fouled players on the pitch but he always keeps his cool, which is why he rated amongst the best footballers to ever grace the beautiful game.

I remember one incident when Lioli were playing Matlama at LCS Ground where he picked a straight red card for retaliating after he was fouled by Tankiso Makhutla.

After the referee had blown in his favor and all he had to do was to stand up and get back into play, he chased after Makhutla and shoved him, leaving the ref with no choice but to show him the red card.

Discipline is key to becoming a good player and without it, not many players realise their true potential.

Lioli would not want to lose Khutlang at this crucial stage of the league title race as he has been an important member of the team.

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