FC Likhopo have been one of the most competitive teams since their promotion into the elite league in 2003.
The Maseru-based side went on to win the league title back-to-back just two seasons after their promotion, and have also since won the Top 4, Top 8 and Vodacom Spectacular trophies.
The Red Army, as Likhopo are affectionately known, were among the Top 4-finish contenders last season, but narrowly lost their spot to Matlama in the last match of the season after failing to beat LDF, which allowed Tse Putsoa to pip them to fourth position on the 14-team Vodacom Premier League table.
But things seem to have changed for the worst this season as the brainchild of the late Bishop Molatoli has been struggling since the league programme started two months ago.
Likhopo now anchor the Premier League table with four points after seven matches, and among others, have lost to newcomers Likila United, and only won against Mphatlalatsane and drawn with Matlama.
It is sad to see one of the teams which used to be the driving force of domestic football struggling to even beat the so-called minnows of the league.
Yet Likhopo’s woes started shortly after they lost their founder and coach, Molatoli, in January this year.
The team then appointed the no-nonsense Motheo Mohapi as head-coach at the start of this season—a move which, at the time, I had thought was the best for the ambitious side.
However, Mohapi’s appointment does not seem to have brought the required positivity to this team as their misery continues to increase by the week.
Likhopo management has attributed the team’s poor form to the absence of key players due to injuries, but while it is true some of their stars have been sidelined for lengthy periods of time, one also wonders if there are no other contributing factors.
Likhopo have been one of the teams that have produced some of our best footballers over the years, but the team is also notorious for not allowing players to leave the club. The last could be one of the problems they find themselves at the wrong end of the Premiership table.
During the off-season break, striker Lehlomela Ramabele went for trials at South African First Division side Warriors, but the gifted youngster could not get his clearance from Likhopo.
The same thing happened to young Likuena defender, Sepiriti Malefane who made it very clear that he wanted to leave Likhopo for Bantu but also couldn’t get his clearances. The list is just endless.
It was also another battle when two-time young player of the season, Tumelo Khutlang, wanted to leave for Sundawana FC at the beginning of the current season.
This trend of refusing to release players goes way back to the days Molatoli was still alive, and it appears this has come back to haunt the team.
Football is a game that needs full commitment from everyone, but how do you expect the players to perform to their level best when they are not happy to be at the team?