Likhopo’s downward spiral continues
IT never rains but pours for two-time premier league champions Likhopo who made a nightmarish start to the 2016/2017 soccer season.
Last week Likhopo went down 0-2 to LCS in a mid-week encounter before being thumped 1-4 by Lioli on Sunday to continue their poor run in a season their fans would want to forget in a hurry.
As if that was not enough, team manager Qamako Mahao resigned a fortnight ago.
And true to Murphy’s Law which states that everything that can go wrong will certainly go wrong, Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) have also decided to pull the plug on their sponsorship deal with the club which was worth M3 million over three years.
And who would blame them in light of the team’s woeful performances in the last three seasons?
I cannot say I am surprised.
Good performances usually help teams to secure good sponsorship and given Likhopo’s miserable run, one could say that they had it coming for a long time.
Likhopo was formed in 1995 by the late Bishop Molatoli and gained promotion to the premier league in 2003. Theirs became a fairytale as it only took them just two seasons to land their first league title which they successfully defended the following season.
Affectionately known as the Red Army, Likhopo soon acquired a reputation for producing quality players and right now almost every premier league team boasts of players that were groomed by Likhopo.
We are talking about a team that sent four players Neo Makama, Tefo Maipato, Dlomo Monaphathi and Katleho Moleko to the Orlando Pirates development side in South Africa in 2000. The likes of Bokang Mothoana and Thapelo Tale also came through their ranks to play outside the country.
But that seems to have been another lifetime and the present, sad reality is that as we approach the end of the first round of the 2016/2017 campaign, Likhopo are perched precariously on second from the bottom with only two points separating them from basement club Butha-Buthe Warriors.
This is must be worrying to Likhopo management as their team has registered only one win in 10 matches, drawing one and losing eight and draw ones before yesterday’s match against Rovers.
Besides back to back league titles, their trophy cabinet has housed the Top4, Top8 and Vodacom Spectacular trophies.
But Likhopo has not been at its best since Molatoli passed on in January 2014 and they have not managed a top four finish.
The team was taken over by Molatoli’s widow fondly known as ‘M’e Queen but the team has never been the same.
This is was one of the teams that seemed to be on the verge of turning professional as they started paying their players monthly allowances.
But that could soon be history if the sponsor goes ahead with the planned pull out and I do not see them attracting another big sponsor anytime soon given their position on the league table.