Soccer fans were treated to a football feast at Setsoto Stadium last weekend as Matlama, LCS, Lioli and Liphakoe battled-it-out in the inaugural edition of the Alliance Winter Challenge.
Matlama came out winners in the two-day tournament bankrolled by Alliance Insurance after beating Lioli 2-0 in the final played on Sunday before a decent and appreciative crowd.
While all the four teams displayed good football, I was a bit worried by newly promoted Liphakoe.
The Quthing-based outfit had a very good time in the A Division South Stream last season, losing only once and winning 17 times on their way to winning promotion into the elite league, while Rovers won the Northern Stream.
But if pre-season form is anything to go, then Liphakoe face a tough time in the premiership and need to dig deep to survive relegation.
I watched Liphakoe’s pre-season matches against Free State Stars, Lioli and LCS which the premiership rookies lost and I must say I really doubt if they will be able to survive the heat among the big fish of domestic football.
Liphakoe begin their league campaign at home this afternoon against Likila United who finished sixth in their debut premiership campaign last season, and if they fail to win this tie, it might set the tone for the remainder of the campaign and this is the last thing you would want as a club.
Liphakoe seem to enjoy ball-possession than playing productive football, which could be their downfall should the coaches not resolve that problem as soon as possible.
The team’s midfield is packed with real talent in Mohau Rammoneng, Janki Tšoeu, Tšepo Toloane, Tšoarelo Mokoaleli and Thabiso Letseka.
But the problem is these players enjoy knocking the ball around without making that killer pass to the forwards, which almost always ends at the back of the net.
The backline is made-up of the experienced Lereko Matsipa, who also played for Likhopo and Lioli, and their captain, David Lebakeng, who also played for Swallows and Lihale during their time in the premier league.
The team has also signed Masilo Nnena from Linare in an effort to solidify their defence as they wade into the dangerous world of premiership football.
Liphakoe’s strike-force did not look menacing enough in the pre-season matches I watched, and I can see this team finding it difficult to bang the goals in this term. However, with a week before the transfer-window closes, I believe they will boost their frontline with at least a seasoned striker because only then can they have a chance of surviving relegation.
The other problem I saw is the team lacks tactical discipline and I am not sure whether it is because they are coming from a lower league or the coaches have not really worked on it. I believe coach Teele Ntšonyane is going to work on this flaw which could be fatal if not addressed as a matter of urgency.