LIOLI supporters were bemused last weekend, when their lacklustre side was held by Econet Premier League returnees Majantja at LCS Ground.
To compound the Lioli fans’ woes, bitter rivals Bantu hammered Linare 3-0 with goals from Hlompho Kalake, Litšepe and Mokone Marabe respectively.
Nothing pains supporters more than watching their team struggling while their rivals are vanquishing all before them.
It is particularly disconcerting for Lioli supporters given that the past five premier league seasons were dominated by the two teams, with the Teyateyaneng side clinching three titles, while Bantu notched two.
The two sides have also shared the spoils of the Independence and Top8 trophies in recent years.
Among the reasons for Lioli and Bantu’s domination of domestic football has been astute management in the boardroom and dugout.
As a result, the two teams have been accruing the lion’s share of sponsorship in the 14-team premier league making them the top-paying teams in the division with the exception of security agency teams LCS, LDF and LMPS.
However, it seems Lioli are lagging behind Bantu which might cost the former the league title once again.
In my season preview analysis, I had noted that Lioli could give defending champions, Bantu, a good run for their money with their formidable squad and technical department headed by coach Halemakale Mahlaha.
While I still hold that view, I feel it can only be achieved if there are significant changes at the team.
Firstly, there is a need for stability in the technical department. The team was destabilised by the departure of assistant coach, Motebang Makhetha, earlier this year to Liphakoe.
He was replaced by Mosholi Mokhothu who was fired a fortnight ago. Makhetha has since been rehired by the club.
Secondly, the indiscipline among the players has not been addressed much to the club’s detriment. Some of the players fake injuries, while others undergo trials at other clubs without informing Lioli management. Some have even gone AWOL.
Clearly Mahlaha is not fully in charge of the Lioli dressing room, and the sooner this matter is addressed the better for the team’s fortunes.
Meanwhile, the combination of Bantu coach James Madidilane and his assistant, Bob Mafoso, has made the Mafeteng side premier league title favourites once again.
It is evident that morale is high among Bantu players which is being reflected by their performance.
I may not be a coach or footballing expert, but it does not require a rocket scientist to understand the importance of a team working as a cohesive unit in achieving success.
It is my belief that Bantu beat Lioli in that aspect last season, and are well on their way to triumphing once again if Lioli don’t put their house in order.
Titles are won and lost because of the little things, especially with regard to administration.
Lioli needs to wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. Otherwise, they risk finding themselves in the doldrums like Matlama and Linare who allowed the vices of maladministration and indiscipline to take root.