LCS . . . . . . . (3) 3
Likhopo . . . . 0
MASERU — Although it is only September, this 2011/12 Vodacom Premier League season is already feeling like a long, hard slog for Likhopo.
Pillaged relentlessly by Lesotho’s bigger guns during the off-season, the problems Likhopo are going to have this season were crystalised in their 3-0 loss to LCS yesterday at the LCS Stadium as Motlatsi Shale’s side were effortlessly swatted aside by Masheshena.
Champions back-to-back in 2005 and 2006, Likhopo in summary looked far from being contenders; in fact they didn’t look like a team that will still be in the premiership come next season.
They looked short on ideas, short in quality and most worryingly, short on energy.
The end of the season is thankfully a full 12 months away so things can still change. But they will have to do so fast after a display that betrayed the beautiful spring sunshine.
And going into yesterday’s game Likhopo would have certainly felt a win was within their grasp, not least after Masheshena’s loss to LDF last week and on account of their good record against Masheshena.
But as was the case towards the end of last season Likhopo pressed the self-destruct button to give the champions an easy afternoon’s three points.
Three soft goals within the first 40 minutes, one from Motlatsi Rantja and two from the in-form Thulo Ranchobe, meant the game was already killed off by half-time and left Likhopo looking like a team desperately in need of reinforcement.
Shorn of their top talents Likhopo were a shadow of the team that stylishly won the Vodacom Soccer Spectacular last season. And with two losses in two games, where the side goes from here is anyone’s guess.
Of course in some ways they have an excuse.
Thabiso Mohapi, Lekhanya Lekhanya and Mokone Marabe — all youth internationals — have been poached by Bantu.
Strongman Nyakhane Nyakhane’s future seemingly lies elsewhere, Thapelo Tale is on trial in Serbia while Raotse Raotse and Tšepo George were snatched by yesterday’s opponents, LCS.
It meant it was an unrecognisable Likhopo team that started yesterday’s match with only Tšeliso Sejake, Salebone Lekhooa and Kananelo Makhooane the only so-called regulars.
Likhopo owner, Bishop Molatoli had wanted to give his youngsters a chance to succeed but this setback, coming on the back of a 1-0 loss to Lioli last week, suggests the job is going to be a tough one.
It is a scenario that plunges Likhopo into a sort of crisis.
With no other obvious candidates available and the transfer window shut Likhopo’s talented boys will have to grow fast.
LCS, orchestrated by the dominant Ralekoti Mokhahlane and manned by the defence of Moitheri Ntobo and Poloko Mohale, on the other hand looked comfortable throughout.
With this solid base set Ranchobe, Thabane Rankara and Motlatsi Rantja feasted on Likhopo’s inexperience and the delivery of their fullbacks Katleho Lethabela and George.
The second goal, midway through the first half, indeed came from a cross after the normally dependable Makhooane flapped at a cross leaving Ranchobe an open goal.
More indecision led to the third when Ranchobe slotted home a penalty after a needless handball.
The one comfort for Likhopo is they will be hosts for the first time next week against LMPS before they face newly-promoted Mpharane Celtics.
Likhopo’s problems can be copied and pasted on to 2009/10 champions Matlama who were beaten 2-1 by Joy in the first of what was a double header at the LCS Stadium yesterday.
After a 1-1 draw with LMPS last week Matlama already find themselves lagging behind.
In Teyateyaneng, Lioli’s first day promise was halted somewhat as they were held to a 1-1 draw by newly-promoted Majantja.
But it is the two Maseru sides that have the most to worry about.
It may only be September, but it’s looking like its going to be a long hard season for Likhopo and Matlama.
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