Local News - Issue 240

Middendorp Joins Chippa
Chippa United have confirmed the appointment of Ernst Middendorp as their head coach - just under a month after promoting Roger Sikhakhane to the hotseat on a 'permanent' basis. Middendorp, who met his squad on Monday, has agreed to a six-month contract with an option to renew at the end of the Absa Premiership season. The 56-year-old German was sacked by Bloemfontein Celtic in mid-December, paving the way for Clinton Larsen's return to Phunya Sele Sele. Middendorp also had spells in charge of Golden Arrows, Maritzburg United and Kaizer Chiefs. The Chilli Boys confirmed Middendorp's appointment in a press release, while also thanking Sikhakhane for his service. Middendorp's first assignment will be against University of Pretoria at Tuks Stadium on 10 February. Meanwhile, Port Elizabeth-based Chippa also revealed they will be playing some home games at Buffalo Park Stadium in East London as they seek to build their support in the Eastern Cape.

Thandani Ntshumayelo is waiting on Orlando Pirates before he decides on his next move. The 24-year-old midfielder’s current deal expires at the end of the season, and so far the Buccaneers have not indicated whether that would be extended. However, his agent Tim Sukazi explains that the club have the option of extending his contract beyond 2015. Ntshumayelo has made nine Absa Premiership starts for Bucs this season, coming on as a sub three times.

Amajimbos reported to camp on Monday afternoon to continue preparations for the upcoming CAF U-17 African Youth Championships to be hosted by Niger next month. Although not all players reported for camp, Amajimbos held their first training session at the SAFA School of Excellence in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon. They will travel to Zambia on Thursday to play a friendly against Zambia on Saturday, before returning to South Africa the following day. The team will then remain in the local camp until they travel to Nigeria on 14 January to play a friendly against the Golden Eaglets. Amajimbos are in Group B of the 2015 CAF African Youth Championships where they are pitted against Ivory Coast, Mali and Cameroon. If they finish among the top four, they will qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will be staged in Chile from 17 October – 8 November 2015. Group A will consists of hosts Niger, Guinea, Nigeria and Zambia.

There will be no repeat of the player bonus row that marred the 2013 CHAN tournament when Bafana Bafana take to the field at the Africa Cup of Nations in less than two weeks. It was reported that coach Shakes Mashaba was “in the dark” over the issue of bonuses, but a meeting between SAFA and the players’ representatives has now put any potential problems to bed. “The issue of players` bonuses has been thrashed out by all parties and everyone is happy,” says SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi. “We had a very cordial and fruitful meeting with the players’ representatives to discuss this matter and, at the end, all parties were happy. The discussion encompassed all tournaments, including friendly matches and the Afcon tournament. So there are no issues with regards to players’ bonuses.” Bafana are in the final stages of the preparations for the tournament in Equatorial Guinea, and will fly out for a camp in Gabon on Wednesday.

It looks like Polokwane City mighty finally decide to sell their most prized asset, Puleng Tlolane during the current transfer window. Tlolane has been enjoying his best form with Rise and Shine, scoring eight goals in the league so far this season. The Limpopo-born striker has one more season left on his contract with City, but the club might be forced to sell him now during the current transfer window period or possibly in June. Tlolane's agent Lizwe Mthethwa has confirmed that two Gauteng-based clubs have made an enticing offer to Polokwane City for the services of his client. Tlolane has helped his current club to sixth place on the PSL log, level on points with fifth-placed Ajax Cape Town.

AmaZulu will hold talks with defender Robyn Johannes and a host of other players this week as their contracts near their termination date. The 27-year-old signed a one-year contract with an option to renew at the start of the season after he joined AmaZulu as a free agent, having been released by Maritzburg United. According the club PRO and Communications manager Philane Mabaso, the club will hold talks this week with most of their players whose contracts come to end this season. According to Mabaso club coach Steve Barker, who was appointed late last year, will have the final say after viewing most of his players' contracts. Meanwhile Usuthu, who are propping up the foot of the table, are being linked with Mamelodi Sundowns duo Bongi Ntuli and Punch Masenamela. Both players have found it difficult to crack a regular spot in their side’s starting XI this season, with Ntuli yet to score for the Chloorkop-based side, while Punch Masenalmela is coming back from a long injury lay-off. The former Kaizer Chiefs left-back faces stiff competition in the left-back position, as he comes up against Mzikayise Mashaba and Tebogo Langerman to fill the full-back spot in Pitso Mosimane’s team. Usuthu will be hopeful that their new January additions will be sealed and settled ahead of the resumption of the league next month, when they welcome Soweto Giants Orlando Pirates to the Moses Mabhida Stadium on February 11. 

Mamelodi Sundowns are yet to indicate if they will extend Lebohang Mokoena and Bryce Moon's contracts when they expire in June. Mokoena joined Sundowns in June 2009 and has made 89 appearances for the Brazilians, scoring 11 goals. However, injury problems have limited his game-time and this season he has only made two league appearances and played one cup game. Moon's future at Sundowns has been under threat and he has been linked with a moved away from the Pretoria side. Last season he played 21 League games but this term he is yet to play, prompting speculation that he could move to AmaZulu. Prosport international CEO Mike Makaab says there hasn’t yet been any discussion between the two parties regarding the two players extending their deals with Sundowns. Both players can sign for any other club on a pre-contract agreement during the current transfer window as they both have less than six months remaining on their deals.

Ajax Cape Town winger Keagan Dolly says there have not been any talks of him joining Mamelodi Sundowns during the current transfer window. There was speculation that the 21-year-old would return to Chloorkop this January instead of at the end of the season as was initially agreed, but Dolly says it is up to the two clubs to decide. Ajax CEO Ari Efstathiou told this website last month that Dolly will be staying with the club for the rest of the season, as it is stipulated in the contract signed with Sundowns. The player himself remains ready for anything to happen but has pledged his commitment to the Urban Warriors.

Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker has set his sights on breaking Benni McCarthy's goalscoring record for Bafana Bafana. Parker, who made his international return against Zambia on Sunday after a 10-month absence, is third on Bafana's top scorers' list with 23 goals - 10 shy of McCarthy's mark, and six behind second-placed Shaun Bartlett. “It feels great to be back in the team and thanks to the coach for selecting me and believing in me by taking me with the team to Equatorial Guinea. It is just an unbelievable team spirit that we have here in the team, the guys are just out of this world to work with,” said Parker. “When the coach announced the preliminary squad, it was just perfect timing with me coming back from injury. I think I proved myself in the league that I am Bafana Bafana material and that I can help the squad. I am still as hungry as I was from day one. I still want to be the top goal scorer of all time in Bafana Bafana. Bafana have a friendly against Cameroon this Sunday. Ephraim Mashaba's men will start their Afcon campaign against Algeria on January 19.

KV Oostende midfielder Andile Jali resumed full training with his Bafana Bafana teammates at the UJ training ground on Monday. Jali was previously sidelined with a knee injury, but took part in a small-sided match this morning along with the players who contested a friendly against Zambia on Sunday. Left-back Thabo Matlaba also completed the entire session after being stretchered off with cramp in the 1-0 win over Chipolopolo. However, Matlaba's Orlando Pirates clubmate Patrick Phungwayo is still struggling with a knock to his knee. Meanwhile, Doncaster Rovers midfielder Dean Furman arrived in the country on Monday but only trained on Tuesday. Furman featured in his club's 1-1 draw with Bristol City in an FA Cup third-round match on Saturday.

Kaizer Chiefs are playing their cards close to their chest over the future of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. The 27-year-old’s contract at Naturena expires at the end of the season, meaning that as from this month he is free to sign a pre-contract with any other club. Khune has been linked with moves to Mamelodi Sundowns or Orlando Pirates, having so far failed to regain his first-team jersey at Chiefs after recovering from a long-term injury lay-off. Pressed for comment on possible contract negotiations, Amakhosi’s football manager Bobby Motaung said: “I can’t talk about any player’s movements. I am still on holiday and we will only re-open on Monday.”

The Under-20 men’s national team, Amajita, have begun serious training ahead of tournaments in Qatar and Russia. Amajita leave for the Middle East on Wednesday evening and take on a Qatar Select in Doha on 10 January before flying to St Petersburg, Russia for the Russian Commonwealth tournament that takes place from 15-26 January. In the absence of Under-20 coach Thabo Senong, who is with Bafana Bafana, the team will be under the guidance of David Notoane and goalkeeper coach Wendell Robinson. The squad went into camp on Sunday, 4 January and were at full training with the entire team on Monday, 5 January at the School of Excellence.

Mamelodi Sundowns are keen to keep both Elias Pelembe and Katlego Mashego at Chloorkop beyond their current contracts, which expire in June. The players' manager Tim Sukazi confirms that Downs have tabled fresh offers to the pair. "Yes, I can confirm Sundowns have made offers for both Pelembe and Mashego," Sukazi says. "We shall return to them very soon."

Daine Klate looks likely to remain at Orlando Pirates beyond the 2014/15 season. The 29-year-old winger will see his current contract expire in June, and talk is that both SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits are desperate to have him on board. It is understood that Klate would prefer to remain at Pirates, and his agent Tim Sukazi confirmed that talks will commence later this week.

Dutch outfit PEC Zwolle arrived in South Africa this weekend for their mid-season break and have already begun training in Stellenbosch. The club, who sit fourth in the Dutch topflight at the halfway mark in the season, will face Santos and Ajax Cape Town at Coetzenburg Stadium in Stellenbosch this week. The Dutch outfit will play Santos on January 6 followed by Ajax on January 10. Newly-selected South Africa U-20 midfielder Ricky Lourenco, a product of Bidvest Wits' development, was signed by Zwolle late last year, joining countryman Dean Patricio at the club. Last year Zwolle camped in Stellenbosch during their winter break and this year they have increased their involvement in the community around the Western Cape. They are scheduled for two township visits as well as a KNVB Coaching Course to educate coaches in the Cape Winelands region. Former Dutch international Aron Winter will be in Stellenbosch once again, and as he did last year, will be part of the coaching education for the local coaches in the Cape Winelands region. Safa's technical director Fran Hilton-Smith will also be involved in the coaching education programme.

South Africa beat Zambia 1-0 in a friendly on Sunday as both sides honed their preparations for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. Substitute Thuso Phala netted the goal on 81 minutes at a sweltering Orlando Stadium, raising Bafana Bafana's confidence for CAF's premier tournament, taking place in Equatorial Guinea from January 17 to February 8. Soon after Phala could have grabbed a second goal, with Parker again creating the chance, but the SuperSport United winger fired wide of the target.

German club VfL Wolfsburg are gearing up in eager anticipation for their upcoming tour of South Africa during the extended Christmas break. Both the Bundesliga and Absa Premiership are on an extended festive season break, with Wolfsburg choosing to continue their mid-season preparations in South Africa. Dieter Hecking’s charges, who currently lie second in the Bundesliga standings behind early pace-setters Bayern Munich, will regroup at the club’s training base at the Volkswagen Arena in Germany for a week, before jetting into the country, where they are expected to arrive on Sunday, 11 January. They will then undergo an eight-day training camp at Ikamva, the home of Ajax Cape Town, with a friendly club encounter against the Urban Warriors – labelled the Turkish Airlines Friendship Cup – scheduled for Wednesday, 14 January at the Cape Town Stadium. Wolfsburg will conclude their tour of the country with a friendly against Chippa United in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, 18 January, before re-commencing their league schedule with a tough fixture at home against Bayern Munich on 30 January.

The late Senzo Meyiwa and Banyana star Portia Modise both missed the final cut after being initially nominated in the CAF football awards. Meyiwa, who was tragically gunned down in October last year, was nominated as one of five players in line for the African Player of the Year award, for players based in Africa. Portia Modise, who recently scored her 100th goal for Banyana Banyana, had also made the final five nominated for Africa’s Woman Player of the Year. However, in CAF’s most recent list of nominees for the awards, which cuts all categories down to three possible winners, both Meyiwa and Modise were omitted in their respective categories, meaning that there will be no South African winners at next week’s continental awards evening. The winners of the different awards will be announced at a Gala Awards evening in Lagos on Thursday, 8 January.

Nominees for all CAF awards:
African Player of the Year
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon and Borussia Dortmund)
Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria and Lille)
Yaya Toure (Cote d’Ivoire and Manchester City)

African Player of the Year – Based in Africa
Akram Djahnit (Algeria and ES Setif)
El Hedi Belamieri (Algeria and ES Setif)
Firmin Mubele Ndombe (DR Congo and AS Vita)

African Woman’s Player of the Year
Annette Ngo Ndom (Cameroon and Amazon Grimstad)
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and River Angels)
Desire Oparanozie (Nigeria and Guingamp)

Youth Player of the Year
Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria and River Angels)
Fabrice Ondoa (Cameroon and Barcelona)
Uchechi Sunday (Nigeria and River Angels)

Most Promising Talent
Clinton N’jie (Cameroon and Olympique Lyon)
Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon and Porto)
Yacine Brahimi (Algeria and Porto)

Coach of the Year
Florent Ibenge (DR Congo)
Kheireddine Madoui (ES Setif)
Vahid Halilhodžić (Former coach of Algeria)

National Team of the Year

Woman’s National Team of the Year
Nigeria U-20

Club of the Year
Al Ahly (Egypt)
AS Vita (DR Congo)
ES Setif (Algeria)

Shakes Mashaba has named his 23-man Bafana Bafana squad for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea. The biggest shock is the ommission of Thulani Serero. The other players who miss out from the provisional squad are Siyabonga Mpontshane, Kwanda Mngonyama, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Jabulani Shongwe, Mzikayise Mashaba, Asavela Mbekile, Mondli Cele, Ayanda Patosi, Vuyisile Wana and David Zulu. Mashaba is also yet to announce a captain.

Goalkeepers: Brilliant Khuzwayo, Darren Keet, Jackson Mabokgwane
Defenders: Siyabonga Nhlapo, Patrick Phungwayo, Anele Ngcongca, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Mulomowandau Mathoho, Rivaldo Coetzee, Thabo Matlaba
Midfielders: Themba Zwane, Andile Jali, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bongani Zungu, Thamsanqa Sangweni, Dean Furman, Thuso Phala, Mandla Masango, Oupa Manyisa
Strikers: Bernard Parker, Tokelo Rantie, Bongani Ndulula, Sibusiso Vilakazi

Thulani Serero has expressed regret at not being selected for Bafana Bafana at the African Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea. The Ajax Amsterdam playmaker was surprisingly left out of Shakes Mashaba’s final 23-man squad for the tournament."I am very sorry that I was not selected," Serero was quoted on the Ajax Amsterdam website. "The African Nations Cup is a special tournament and I'd liked to have played for my country." Serero says he will now turn his attention fully to his club commitments over the next while. Mashaba was vague in his reasoning for leaving out Serero, who had expressed excitement earlier in the month at going to the Nations Cup.

University of Pretoria midfielder Thabo Mnyamane has caught the attention of Soweto giants Orlando Pirates. According to a source close to Mnyamane, Pirates have enquired about the availability of the 22-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season but contains a one-year option. Mnyamane's manager Mandla Mthembu, from NG Sports, confirms there is interest in his client. However, he says they are in talks with AmaTuks over a new deal. Mnyamane is Tuks' joint-top scorer with Geofrey Massa this season with seven goals in all competitions.

Supersport United could hijack Zambian striker Reynold Kampamba’s move to Platinum Stars. Kampamba was set to join Stars on a three-year contract after his team Nkana had agreed on a transfer fee with the South African side. However it has emerged that the 20-year-old forward has changed his mind and has his sights set elsewhere. A source close to the player has confirmed Kampamba’s change of heart after Platinum Stars had initially made a good offer for the Chipolopolo striker. Platinum Stars boss Ratanang Nke confirmed that his team are still waiting for Kampamba to accept their offer. Kampamba, who has been named in Zambia’s provisional squad for Afcon 2015, is set to finalise his decision after the African showpiece.

Platinum Stars are confident of holding onto their best players during the January transfer window. Dikwena are currently locked in negotiations with both Tshepo Gumede and Siyabonga Mpontshane, whose current deals with the club expires at the end of the season. Stars boss Ratanang Nke confirms that new offers have been tabled for both Gumede and Mpontshane, who are being linked to Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates respectively.