Liphakoe striker shows one can be successful in both sport and schoolwork
It usually takes teams a season or two—or even longer—to really feel at home once promoted to the premier league and Liphakoe striker, Neo Skosana, says his side is no exception.
The premiership rookies have only managed one point from the two matches they have played so far in the 2015/16 topflight league following one loss and a draw.
Skosana was a vital member of the Teele Ntsonyane-coached side as it cruised to the Vodacom Premier League, banging in 10 goals last season and becoming the club’s top-scorer.
The 24-year-old striker, who was born in Quthing Upper Moyeni before moving to Ha-Tšosane and Ha-Thetsane where he currently stays, has surely come a long way since launching his football career at non-league side Tšosane Kellis in 2000.
Five years later, Skosana returned to his home-based team, Liphakoe, where he has been ever since.
“Look, we are new in the premier league, but have always known it was not going to be a piece of cake. We have many youngsters in the team who will only become better with age, but still, I believe we did pretty well in our first two matches of topflight football.
“You see, we have been together for a long time and understand each other fairly well.
“In the two matches we played, we could have won if luck was a bit on our side,” Skosana said.
The unassuming forward sincerely believes with time, Liphakoe would be a force to reckon with in domestic football.
“We are working on becoming a better side every week, so hopefully, results will come as the season progresses. The coaches are working hard on our finishing because that is where we have been struggling,” Skosana said.
According to Skosana, he was never fanatical about football as a youngster, and even when attending Thetsane English Medium, Cenez, Holy Trinity, and Masitise schools.
“That’s what often surprises me; football was never my favourite sport. I would only get involved because of my friends who were playing the game, but look where I am today,” chuckled the towering striker, who says he has since enjoyed the game the way he never thought he would.
However, after joining Tšosane Kellis 15 years ago, Skosana said he started enjoying his game until he became addicted to the sport.
“Since then, I have never looked back because I have been enjoying playing football so much. I also set myself certain goals I wanted to achieve; some I have already achieved, while I am hoping to accomplish those I have not yet accomplished.
“Among other things, helping Liphakoe regain promotion into the premier league was one of my dreams coming true. But like any other player, I am also longing to play for the national team, Likuena, at some point.”
Liphakoe play their third premiership match against Mphatlalatsane in Quthing this afternoon and Skosana is hoping the team would register its first win in the elite league.
“It is important that we win on Sunday; victory would surely boost morale in camp and I have been working hard to sharpen my skills and ensure that I score. I am so much looking forward to this match.”
The former national under-20 striker is impressed with the gulf in class between the premier league and first division.
“I think our football is growing although we still have a long way to go. However, I was happy to see that things are very different in the premier league and competition is not easy compared to the A Division. That is one other thing that made us struggle a bit in the first two games—adjusting to the new rhythm in the premier league.”
He added: “Still, I think our development structures need to prepare us with the right basics. You can see we have good players but lack the basics, which is why our national team will always be exposed when playing against other countries. I think we start to take the game seriously quite late in life compared to other nations, which is why we struggle to compete.”
On playing for Liphakoe, Skosana said: “This is one of the teams with a huge support base. There is no way that there will be no pressure because our supporters are expecting results especially after performing so well last season to gain promotion into the premier league.
“That is why there is this pressure all the time but then, our management has been rallying behind us to ensure we deal with the weight of expectation.”
Skosana has just completed his Associate Degree in Business Management at the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, and says it is important for players to be educated “because a football career can’t be trusted”.
“I am currently waiting for my graduation ceremony; I believe it is important for players not to quit school because of football. We are still far from becoming professional for players to earn a living through the sport. And again, even if we become professional, you will never know what will happen in life so one may still need something to fall back on if a football career fails you.”
Yet the hitman said it was not easy balancing schoolwork with football, and requires a strong character to achieve it.
“I often find myself in hot water because of football especially when I have not been doing well at school. But again, I am grateful for the support I get from my family especially mother; she is a very understanding person.”
According to Skosana, the biggest challenge local football faces is lack of funding.
“For our football to grow, it needs money and that is the biggest challenge our teams face because companies are very hesitant when it comes to investing in sport. So you will find we are only playing football just because we are passionate about the game.”
Skosana is equally grateful to the welcome he received from the likes of Lebotho Letsie and Kekeletso Lebeta when he joined Liphakoe.
“I joined Liphakoe at a very early age after leaving Cenez to continue with my studies at Holy Trinity. I was helped by these two brothers (Letsie and Lebeta) who are former Liphakoe players, but since I was very passionate about the game, it did not take me long to settle in the team.”
Name: Neo Skosana.
Date of Birth: 29 April 1991
Place of birth: Quthing Upper Moyeni
Previous teams: Tsosane Kellis
Current team: Liphakoe
Honours: Played for national under 20
Teams supported: Barcelona (Spain), Liphakoe
Favorite meal: Rice, chicken and salad
Dream car: Golf V
Role model: Lebotho Letsie and Kekeletso Lebeta
Marital status: In a relationship
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