Local News - 16-22 August 2013

Mamelodi Sundowns have beaten Orlando Pirates to Khama Billiat’s signature with Eleazar Rodgers moving the opposite way. The 22-year-old Billiat was given an ultimatum at the beginning of the week to decide if he wants to stay with the Urban Warriors or move to a Gauteng club. The deal sees Eleazar Rodgers moving back to Cape Town on loan to Ajax.

Bloemfontein Celtic are handing trials to Terror Fanteni, Diyo Sibisi, Letsie Koapeng and Moeketsi Mvula. Fanteni was released by Bidvest Wits recently, and was on trial at AmaZulu, however Usuthu decided against signing him. University of Pretoria released Sibisi recently. He spent less than a year with AmaTuks before being loaned to Mpumalanga Black Aces in January. Koapeng was off to Siwelele for trials, while Mvula was given the boot at Free State Stars at the beginning of July.

AmaZulu fullback Marc van Heerden says he could not believe that he got called up to Bafana Bafana and had to ask his fiancée to pinch him when he got the news. The 25-year-old started training with the squad on Monday afternoon following his late inclusion to the squad ahead of Wednesday night’s clash against Nigeria, as well as Saturday’s encounter against Burkina Faso. “It’s been a long time; I’ve waited for almost three years now and I’m very grateful to Gordon and the technical team for giving me a call-up,” Van Heerden said. “It’s a very proud moment for me and my family. I got the call on Sunday evening and I couldn’t believe it; I had to ask my fiancée to pinch me. Van Heerden has been hailed as one of the top left-backs in the country since earning a regular berth with Usuthu since the 2009/10 season, but untimely injuries have hampered his progress at times. In the past few seasons injuries have set me back, but I’ve always tried to raise my game whenever I’m fit, and that’s something I will continue to do,” he added.

Orlando Pirates' CAF Champions League match away to Zamalek of Egypt has been delayed by CAF. Bucs were originally to take on the Egyptian giants in the second leg of their group stage clash on August 30, but according to Zamalek the match will take place 48 hours later than originally scheduled, on September 1. No reason has been given for the delay. Pirates host the White Knights in the first leg on Saturday at Orlando Stadium. Kick-off at 8pm.

The agent of highly-rated Nigerian striker Gambo Mohammed claims to have held talks with both Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic about bringing the player to the PSL. The 25-year-old Kano Pillars player was part of the Super Eagles squad who faced South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge. “I spoke to both Pirates and Celtic,” agent Dennis Idrissa said. “The player is with the Nigerian team and will decide which team to join while in South Africa.” Mohammed is also on the wanted list of Tunisian outfit Club Africain.

Benni McCarthy played a huge role in Thamsanqa Gabuza’s imminent move to Orlando Pirates, though the player insists nothing has been signed just yet. Golden Arrows’ want-away striker has already moved to Johannesburg and confirms that the deal is in the final stages, with the two clubs having agreed on a fee. “It is not official as yet, but I can confirm that I will be leaving Golden Arrows to join Pirates,” he said. Gabuza joined Abafana Bes’thende back in 2008 from Durban Stars and was part of the astonishing Arrows team that stunned Ajax Cape Town 6-0 in the MTN8 Cup Final in 2009. The 26-year-old is also amongst the very few players to have played over 100 caps for Arrows and says he is very grateful to the Durban outfit for everything they have done for him. “I cannot deny the fact that Arrows made me who I am today and, for that, I will forever be thankful.” McCarthy is a great admirer of Gabuza’s ability and the two often had ‘coffee-chats’, which is believed to have swung Gabuza in Bucs’ favour, despite interest from SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits as well.

Middlesbrough and Bournemouth have been told to up their bids to land South African striker Tokelo Rantie. Both Championship clubs have tabled bids just under £1-million (R15-million), but that was rejected by Swedish club Malmo. And agent Nadime Mahmoud has warned it will take a big offer to lure Rantie to England, with French club St Etienne also interested. “Malmo don’t want to sell so we have to respect that,” he said. “They do not have a chance to find a replacement because the transfer window closed on Sunday. But it would be a good opportunity for Tokelo to go to England one day. We will have to see whether they will match the club's valuation or he will stay.” Rantie, who has seven goals in 15 League matches so far this season, signed a long-term deal at Malmo in April, having joined initially on loan from Orlando Pirates.

Mamelodi Sundowns are almost close to sealing the signing of Zambian midfield genius Mukuka Mulenga following protracted negotiations that have dragged on for months. The transfer now hinges on the finalisation of Mulenga’s personal terms with his club Power Dynamos, having already agreed on the transfer estimated at R3million and a 20 percent sell-on for the Zambian Super League club. Mukuka will complete his move to Sundowns on a four-year deal. George Lungu, the Power Dynamos chairman, said from his base in Kitwe, Zambia that the deal is almost done. The 20 year-old was the 2012 Zambian Player of the Year and finished as the most valuable player at the recent COSAFA Castle Cup. Mukuka will be out for six weeks meaning he will only be back in mid-September after suffering a leg injury against Botswana in a CHAN qualifier on August 4. He was expected to arrive at Sundowns during the week.

Bafana Bafana striker Dino Ndlovu took to the pitch for Maccabi Haifa for the first time since April yesterday, and is raring to go in the Europa League play-offs. The 23-year-old made his return to action on Monday afternoon when he turned out in a friendly match against newly promoted Israeli side Hapoel Raanana. It was Ndlovu’s first game back after undergoing surgery on a foot fracture back in April and he admits his time away from the field has helped him grow as a player.

Orlando Pirates are expected to conclude their deal with Paul Koulibaly when Burkina Faso arrive in the country to face Bafana Bafana in an international friendly at FNB Stadium on Saturday. The 27-year-old defender is a free agent after leaving Iraqi club Al Shorta, and while he has ‘agreed in principle’ to join Pirates, nothing has been signed yet. “Pirates wanted him to come earlier with the hope of registering him for the CAF Champions League, but he needed to honour his contract in Iraq,” the player’s agent, Dennis Idrissa said.

Togolese striker Camaldine Abraw has joined Free State Stars on a two-year deal. The 22-year-old arrived back in the country in the week and sealed the deal, but the Free State side wanted the deal kept under wraps because they are still awaiting his work-permit. Abraw previously played for LB Chateauroux and Cherbourg in France’s lower divisions.

Kamohelo Mokotjo has made quite the impression in the opening two weeks of the Dutch season … in fact he has arguably been the best player in the League. Mokotjo was chosen in the prestigious Gillette Team of the Week in the Netherlands after his match-winning performance against Heracles on Saturday, which included his first goal for his new club PEC Zwolle in a 3-1 win. It followed another Man of the Match performance in the opening round 2-1 victory over his former side Feyenoord, which would have given him huge satisfaction. It means after two rounds of action, Mokotjo has the highest rating of any player in the Dutch League with an average of 8.5 out of 10 in the Team of the Season standings, which are highly regarded in Holland. It is a massive step forward for a player who could not catch a game at Feyenoord last season, but has blossomed at a smaller club where he will be given the opportunity to play. Whereas at Feyenoord he was up against internationals for a starting berth, at Zwolle the 22-year-old has been given the opportunity to showcase his talent. Mokotjo made his Bafana Bafana debut in the final few minutes of a 2-0 victory over Mozambique in September last year, but has not been called up since by national team coach Gordon Igesund after sitting in the stands for much of the 2012/13 campaign.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt says he is definitely signing Onismor Bhasera. The Zimbabwean left back has been training with the team since last week and Hunt is wasting no time snapping him up. "He's been fantastic (at training). I'm signing him," Hunt said. The former Kaizer Chiefs defender will join Wits as a free agent as he is currently not attached to any club. Wits are short of options at left back with Keamogetse Wolff suspended after being red-carded in Wits' 3-0 win over Bloemfontein Celtic over the weekend.

The MTN8 semi-final draw was conducted at the PSL headquarters on Monday with two Soweto giants facing each other in the last four. PSL defending champions Kaizer Chiefs will play host to Orlando Pirates in the first leg of the MTN 8 semi-finals, while Bidvest Wits will be away to Platinum Stars. The Clever Boys taught Bloemfontein Celtic a lesson with a 3-0 win last Friday night which also marked Gavin Hunt’s first win as Wits coach. AmaKhosi put their last season’s MTN 8 misery to bed with a 3-0 win over AmaTuks on Saturday night, and they are one of the favourites to lift this year’s trophy. Orlando Pirates are away to Chiefs after beating SuperSport United 4-3 on penalties. The game between Bucs and Matsatsantsa ended 2-2 after extra time. Platinum Stars are still not to be underestimated in this competition despite losing some of their top players including coach Cavin Johnson. They beat Free State Stars 3-0 to book their place in this year’s semi-finals. The first leg of the semi-finals will be played on August 20 & 21 with the second leg scheduled for August 24 and 25. Venues are yet to be confirmed.

Ajax Cape Town will have waited a month before they play their second league fixture. Ajax played their first match against Golden Arrows on August 3. The Urban Warriors were scheduled to play a league match against Orlando Pirates next Tuesday, but owing to Pirates’ participation in the MTN8 the fixture has been postponed. Bucs were drawn against their Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 semi-finals. Ajax coach Muhsin Ertugral says the situation is far from acceptable, but admits there is nothing he can do. “It’s the start of the season we only had one game, you start the season with playing one game and then four weeks you don’t play a game, but I’m not complaining about it because it’s out of my hands,” Ertugral said. Meanwhile, the Cape side have decided to register Cole Alexander after he impressed Ertugral at training. The midfielder’s future with Ajax was uncertain after the club decided they already had enough cover in the middle of the park, but they have decided to register him after all. Ajax’s next match is against AmaZulu on September 1, while the game against Pirates has not yet been scheduled.

Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa has explained why he has not been playing Tlou Segolela. ‘Sox’ last featured for Bucs in the Carling Black Label Cup against Kaizer Chiefs on July 27 and has not played since – let alone being on the bench. De Sa says the winger, who has just signed a new contract with the club, missed a lot of training sessions during protracted negotiations for a new deal. The coach insists he had to reward the players that are showing dedication to the club. The coach was quick to add that Segolela is still part of his plans, particularly for the CAF Champions League.

Bidvest Wits have completed the double signing of Koffi Dan Kowa and Kwanda Mngonyama. The Niger international defender, whose arrival in South Africa was announced last week, put pen to paper on a three-year contract this afternoon. The Clever Boys have also signed Mngonyama, a 19-year-old defender from Mamelodi Sundowns.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have confirmed the signing of Mark Mayambela. Mayambela signed a one-year contract, with an option to renew. “On his day, Mayambela can be deadly and Aces are hoping that this one-year deal with an option could be the ideal opportunity for the 26-year-old truly to blossom and show off his incredible talent,” a statement on the club website revealed. The former Bloemfontein Celtic and Orlando Pirates fan favourite was strongly linked to a move to Moroka Swallows, although Zeca Marques recently insinuated the player was relying on his reputation.

The Premier Soccer League has officially apologised to Mpumalanga Black Aces over the Mabhuti Khenyeza saga. The league had hit out at the club for fielding the striker against Kaizer Chiefs last Friday, only to realise the club were well within their rights to do so.

Golden Arrows have continued their spending for the 2013/14 season with the acquisition of Vuyisile Ntombayithethi. The defender spent last season at Chippa United, but gets another shot at the top-flight after penning a three-year deal. The 24-year-old is the second player Arrows have signed from Chippa after getting Mzolisi Qalanto from the relegated Cape Town side.

Issa Sarr has signed for Platinum Stars on a two-year contract. The Senegalese international, who was one of the few success stories at Chippa United last season, had also been courted by Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town. The 22-year-old joins fellow new signings Takesure Chinyama, Vincent Khumalo, Mahlatsi Makudubela, Mduduzi Nyanda and Sibusiso Hadebe at Stars.