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Surprise departures at Lioli 

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Leemisa Thuseho 

Vodacom Premier League (VPL) 2023/24 season champions, Lioli,?have released three of their players. 

The three are star defender Tieho Ntulo, forward Sello Sekike and midfielder Kabelo Tšepe. 

Lioli announced their departure last week. 

The team said the players’ contracts had expired, and it had no intention to keep them. 

“The following players: Tieho Ntulo, Sello Sekike and Kabelo Ts’epe have been released from Lioli FC,” the team announced. 

It is nonetheless shocking that top defender,?Ntulo, has also been shown the door. 

Ntulo is one of the most admired defenders in the country and a Lioli fan favourite. 

Since joining the team from Galaxy FC in 2019, Ntulo had emerged?a formidable pillar in Lioli’s defense. In early 2020 he received his first senior national team, Likuena, call-up under former coach Thabo Senong. 

The former under-20 national team, Makoanyane XI, player continued to showcase his exceptional skills throughout the just ended season. He played a vital role in helping Lioli win their first?VPL title for the first time since 2016. 

Lioli were crowned VPL champions last month after finishing at the top of the table with 68 points ahead of Matlama, who finished in second position with 66. 

In the just ended league campaign, Ntulo featured in 28 games, missing just two of Lioli’s games. He was even the team’s vice-captain. 

The?Sunday Express?has since learnt that?after Ntulo ‘s contract expired the team did not bother to call him for a renewal. That on its own demonstrated that the team was no longer interested in his services. 

Meanwhile, an impeccable source told the?Sunday Express that although Ntulo was a key player for Lioli, relations between him and coach, Motheo Mohapi, were frosty. 

“Despite being one of the team’s best players, he was not one of the coach’s favourites. Maybe it is not because of his performance but other aspects like discipline, salaries or bonuses related issues that they have decided to release him,” the source said. 

“It is true his contract has expired but the team didn’t even bother to talk to him about a renewal.” 

Ntulo’s next destination is yet to be known as no team has shown any interest in signing him up. 

Lioli marketing manager, Kananelo Ramokoatsi, was reluctant to comment on Ntulo‘s departure and surrounding circumstances. He intimated though that Ntulo himself might not have wanted to renew his contract. 

He said at Lioli “we treat all the players same” and?they could not force players to stay in the team if they were not interested. 

“We know supporters have their favourite players. It is the case in all?teams, but it is not easy to keep players in?the team when they are seemingly not willing to stay,” Ramokoatsi said. 

“In every workplace, when two parties no longer enjoy good working relations, the ties are cut…If an employee is not willing to renew a contract after it has expired, the employer can’t force such a person to stay.” 

Ramokoatsi is hopeful that they will find Ntulo’s replacement. 

 

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