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Why Limpopo clubs struggle in top flight

Polokwane City chairman Johnny Mogaladi
Polokwane City chairman Johnny Mogaladi

Limpopo has produced some of the best in South African football, yet clubs from the province continue to struggle in the top flight.

Mulomowandau Mathoho, Hlompho Kekana, Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Tiyani Mabunda, Rodney Ramagalela, Judas Moseamedi, Keletso Makgalwa and Thabiso Kutumela are among some of Limpopo's finest current talent.

However, almost every season, Limpopo teams are relegation candidates in the Absa Premiership.

Currently, Limpopo clubs Black Leopards and Polokwane City are bottom of the standings.

Limpopo-born Sundowns legend Alex Bapela believes something needs to change in the way Limpopo teams are being run.

"I think it goes with the management of these clubs and who the chairmen surround themselves with. It's usually just 'yes men' and that is a problem," Bapela said.

Baroka chairman Khurishi Mphahlele
Baroka chairman Khurishi Mphahlele

"It's important that these clubs hire football people who have the necessary skills and knowledge. If this doesn't change then we will continue to see clubs from Limpopo fighting relegation all the time."

The chairmen of the clubs have in the past been accused of imposing their preferred players on the coaches and dictating who should play.

It's not surprising that Leopards, City and Baroka each have a different coach in charge from the ones they started the season with. Luc Eymael is the most recent coach to jump ship, leaving Lidoda Duvha a fortnight ago citing unworkable conditions.

The trigger-happy Limpopo club owners, David Thidiela of Leopards, Khurishi Mphahlele of Baroka and Johnny Mogaladi of City, have shared seven managers among the three clubs this season, with just over half of the campaign gone.

Former Orlando Pirates star Andries Sebola says management interference is a major problem.

Black Leopards chairman David Thidiela
Black Leopards chairman David Thidiela

"Coaches have to deal with being told who to play and not selecting the starting XI. It happens everywhere and it's a major cause of instability at these clubs," he said.

When Baroka brought the first silverware to Limpopo in 2018 when they clinched the Telkom Knockout, there was hope of things to come but the situation has become worse.

Sebola added that most of the teams from the north struggle to find sponsors and are forced to sell their players.

"That is why the teams can never win the league, because they are always selling."

Limpopo coaching merry-go-round

Polokwane City: Coach at the start of the season - Zlatko Krmpotic; now Clinton Larsen

Baroka: Coach at the start of the season - Wedson Nyirenda; now Dylan Kerr

Leopards: Coach at the start of the season - Lionel Soccoia, then Luc Eymael; now Cavin Johnson