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Hlojeng takes over at Likhopo



Luciah Phahla

Maseru – Former Lesotho captain Tšepo Hlojeng has taken over as coach of Likhopo.

The Vodacom Premier League outfit had been without a coach since Shalane Lehohla was sacked in April and the ‘Red Army’ finished last season under the caretaker care of Tšeliso Mofolo.

Likhopo say Hlojeng’s task is simple – win silverware.

Helpfully, Hlojeng – who penned a one-year contract last Friday – has experienced success with Likhopo in the past. The former Likuena skipper won the league championship with the ‘Red Army’ as a player in 2006.

And, with the club dreaming of returning to those heights, Likhopo general manager Qamako Mahao declared Hlojeng as the ideal candidate to take the club forward.

Hlojeng, who famously captained Lesotho to the 2000 COSAFA Cup final during a glittering playing career, will be assisted by Mofolo and Lefoka Adoro.

“He is a former Likhopo senior (player), so he knows the club and the culture of Likhopo,” Mahao told thepost on Tuesday.

“He has got qualifications and we found him to be the most suitable candidate to take over the club and hopefully even beyond this season. He has very good interpersonal skills; he is very eloquent, well understood.”

Likhopo are coming off a fifth finish in last season’s Vodacom premiership after they had flirted with a top four berth for much of the campaign.

Mahao said Hlojeng is the perfect leader to elevate Likhopo from also-rans.

“He is a young gentleman and he is still in his early stages of life,” he said. “Anyone who knows Hlojeng from football knows he led Lesotho in international football. He is disciplined hence why he was the captain (of the national team), and that is another thing, he is a leader,” Mahao added.

Hlojeng has a testing start to his reign.

The ‘Red Army’ start their Vodacom Premier League campaign on Saturday against Kick4Life who finished sixth last term and are this season’s trendy pick. Likhopo then have a tricky trip to new boys Butha-Buthe Warriors before facing probable top four rivals Bantu.

But Mahao is unfazed and he did not mince his words on the mandate Hlojeng has been given.

As he pointed out, Likhopo have enjoyed steady backing from Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) since 2012 which gives the club roughly M500 000 per season.

With that backing in tow, the top brass at Likhopo is expecting to edge back towards winning silverware, something the club hasn’t achieved since 2006.

The prevailing feeling at the club is that although they are not in the financial circle of Lioli and Bantu, they now have the muscle to take the next step into trophy contention.

It is one of the reasons Likhopo underwent an extensive off-season overhaul.

Club icons Tefo Maipato, Sefoli Ntoi, Nyakhane Nyakhane, Bokang Mothoana and Thapelo Tale have all left the club, however, Likhopo have high hopes for their new wave of talented youngsters such as Majara Masupha while last season’s top scorer Lehlomela Ramabele remains to spearhead the attack.

“We want to correct the mistakes we made last season,” Mahao said. “Last season our aim was to finish in the top four, however, on our way to that (goal) we faced some challenges which affected the player’s mind-set.”

Mahao added: “It’s very simple, we are the best sponsored team in the league and we would like to please our sponsors. This season we want a trophy, it doesn’t matter which one is it. We just want a trophy; that’s all.”

Likhopo’s optimism is bolstered further by their pre-season results where they have claimed the scalps of Lioli and Matlama, Lesotho’s top two from last season.

“We have played few games (in pre-season). We played against Lioli, we won. We played Matlama, we won. We played LMPS two times and we won,” Mahao said. “The only game we lost was against Lesotho Defence Force, so winning our preseason games I think shows we have the combination as a team.”

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