Local News - Issue 246

Bafana Settle for Socceroos Friendly Next Month
Bafana Bafana will play Australia in an international friendly at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on March 28. South Africa were initially hoping to host 2014 World Cup finalists Argentina next month but the match-up is no longer on the cards. Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba confirmed the Socceroos' upcoming visit during the Nedbank Cup launch in Johannesburg on Monday night. “We would have loved to play Argentina but the Socceroos are not going to be push overs,” Mashaba said. The game will be Bafana's first since their group stage exit at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on January 27.

Amajimbos opened their African Youth Championships with a 2-2 draw with continental heavyweights Ivory Coast in Niger’s capital Niamey on Monday afternoon. The match started at a frantic pace in blazing weather conditions, but it was Molefi Ntseki’s boys who threatened early-on with their swift counter-attacks. It came as no surprise when a good build-up saw Sibongakonke Mbatha ramming home a rebound to give the South Africans a precious first half lead. Amajimbos kept the Ivorian defence under pressure and duly increased the lead from a corner kick when Khanyisa Mayo, the son of former Bush Bucks and Kaizer Chiefs striker Patrick Mayo, rose unchallenged in the box to nod the ball home. In a bid to preserve the lead, coach Molefi Ntseki made a double substitution, bringing on Wiseman Meyiwa and Liam Jordan for Reeve Frosler and Mbatha respectively. But the move back-fired as the Ivorians, who won this tournament four years ago, came back to reduce the deficit in the 75th minute before completing the comeback seven minutes later, as the match ended all square at 2-2. Amajimbos’ next game is against Mali on 19 February, with their last group stage match against Cameroon on 22 February.
Amajimbos XI vs Ivory Coast: Mpoto, Nqoi, Ngcobo, Mohamme, Mukumela, Dlala, Frosler, Maluleke, Mbatha, Mkatshana, Mayo

Orlando Pirates caretaker coach Eric Tinkler has praised in-form striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, saying the player's fitness is the best it has ever been in Mayfair. Majoro currently tops the league's scoring charts with eight goals, along with Polokwane City's Puleng Tlolane and Moeketsi Sekola of Free State Stars. And although Majoro got foolishly sent off after netting in a 2-0 win at Platinum Stars on Saturday, he remains in Tinkler's good books. “Majoro really put in the work and I'm extremely happy with him, same with Kermit Erasmus and Lennox Bacela,” Tinkler says. “Many people don't see what I see because I see them every day. I know them and it is almost like they are my children. I'd love to be able to play all of them but unfortunately I can't and certain games you look at the opposition, you study where their strength lie and weaknesses lie.” The former AmaZulu and Kaizer Chiefs forward struggled for game-time under Vladimir Vermezovic earlier this season, but Tinkler says he has been working very hard since he took over and that is why he has been playing recently. “I'm rewarding him for his hard work. He scored a number of goals in the friendlies that we played. Every day he was extremely motivated, he was working hard and always wanted to do extra because he always wants to get physically fit. His fitness now is the best since I've seen him at the club. In the past he would struggle to last 90 minutes but now he can last the whole game without any problems. And that's good for him because I think he has the quality, same as Kermit, to play for the national team. I have explained that to him and Kermit. But it all depends on how much they are prepared to work. And they have done that which is good, but what it is important here is they remain level-headed, keep their feet on the ground, work hard.”

Platinum Stars winger Tlou Segolela feels that he is finally on the way to reclaiming his status as one of the top players in the South African topflight. Segolela – who moved to Dikwena last month – has played in both the team’s two league matches since the resumption of the domestic fixtures. 'Sox' featured as a second half substitute in the matches against Mpumalanga Black Aces and former club Pirates, and is now aiming to break into the team’s starting line-up. Segolela says that he is happy to be playing competitive football once again following a frustrating spell during his last months with Pirates where he saw no game-time. “It is good to be playing again and I now hope that I will be able to claim a regular spot in the Platinum Stars team,” Segolela said. “When you are not playing, people start saying all sorts of negative stuff but I have to prove that I am still a good player. I am not finished, not yet. I still need time to fit into the team but it has been great. My fitness will improve with more games and then I will be able to prove that I am still a good player. I just have to be patient.” Segolela admits that he had to deal with a lot of emotions when he competed against Pirates on Saturday. “Yes, the emotions were there but you have to be a professional about it. I am now playing for Platinum Stars and my loyalty is with them. The fact that I am a former Pirates player did not count for much on Saturday,” he says.

Orlando Pirates striker Lehlohonolo Majoro issued an apology following the straight red card he received in his side's 2-0 win over Platinum Stars. Majoro opened the scoring just before half-time after being released by Oupa Manyisa but ended a very hot afternoon on a sour note after being sent off in the 62nd minute at Royal Bakokeng Stadium. The striker was shown a straight red card for a blatant stamp on Mahlatsi Makhudubela, and is sorry for actions. Majoro tweeted: "Will like to apologize to makudubela, Pirates supporters, my fans nd entire football fraternity for the red card I got, emotions got me.." Majoro will now miss the Nedbank Cup clash against Tornado FC and the home League clash against Polokwane City through suspension.

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has agreed to hand over the armband to defender Tefu Mashamaite until he is a regular in the side again. Khune made his competitive return to action in the 2-1 win over Township Rollers in the CAF Champions League on Saturday, with Mashamaite captaining the team and scoring a late winner at FNB Stadium. Khune, who was previously sidelined with an ankle injury, last skippered Chiefs in a 2-0 league defeat of SuperSport United on 30 August. Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter has revealed it was Khune who suggested Mashamaite should continue leading the log leaders. "It was a nice touch by Itu in the squad meeting," says Baxter. "He said he thinks that Mashamaite should retain the armband. We had a talk me and Itu and we agreed that this would be the best solution that 'Masha' should continue with the captaincy until he is 100 percent and back as a regular."

Mpumalanga Black Aces have signed defender Limbikani Mzava from Bloemfontein Celtic on a pre-contract. Mzava has turned down an offer from Celtic to renew his contract in favour of a move to Aces where he will join his new teammates at the end of the season. The Malawian-born defender was earlier linked with a move to Ajax Cape Town during the past transfer window period. Celtic coach Clinton Larsen confirmed that Mzava is heading to AmaZayoni next season. "Mzava has signed a pre-contract with Aces but we will still continue playing him until the end of the season.” Mzava has started eight games for Siwelele this season, who have now moved up to seventh in the PSL rankings following their 3-0 victory over AmaZulu on Sunday.

Orlando Pirates veteran Lucky Lekgwathi faces at least another two weeks on the sidelines through injury, according to Bucs coach Eric Tinkler. The 38-year-old defender is yet to play this season due to persistent fitness complaints. "He is still injured... still injured and he will be out for at least the next couple of weeks," says Tinkler. "He went for an operation and it will be a couple more weeks before he starts training again. You have to understand that he is not a youngster any more so the recovery, it takes time." Tinkler adds: "I'm hoping to see him before the end of the season."

Bidvest Wits and University of Pretoria are tussling for the signature of Zambian defender Davies Nkausu. The 29-year-old is on loan at AmaTuks from Bloemfontein Celtic, with his contract set to expire in June. "There is great interest from both Wits and AmaTuks," says a source close to the player. "He is definately not going to Bloemfontein next season but staying in Gauteng." Nkausu, who competed at the recent Africa Cup of Nations, spent five seasons with SuperSport United before switching to Celtic last term. 

Highlands Park coach Steve Haupt believes the arrival of experienced goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini and ex-youth international Auguston Leonard can help the club into the top half of the standings. Kapini has joined Highlands on a deal running up to the end of the season after the termination of his contract at AmaZulu at the close of the January transfer window, while Leonard has joined following a spell with Milano United last season. “Kapini trained with us for the first time today and will be considered for our game on Saturday [against Witbank Spurs]. His experience will surely help us in the goalkeeping department while Leonard’s ability to be play several positions will also be key for us,” says Haupt. Kapini was influenced into joining the team by Larry Brookstone – the executive director at Highlands Park who was previously boss at Silver Stars, the first team that the Zimbabwean played for in South Africa. Meanwhile, Highlands Park have released experienced striker Collin Zimba.

A second-half brace from Lebohang Mokoena secured a 2-1 victory for Mamelodi Sundowns in their MultiChoice Diski Challenge semi-final against Mpumalanga Black Aces. ‘Cheeseboy’ looked dangerous as early as the 16th minute, forcing a save from Aces goalkeeper Cyrie Mollo to set his side’s intentions for the match. The Brazilian midfielder scored nine minutes into the second half to give his side the advantage. The lead lasted just seven minutes as a superb Judas Moseamedi strike put Aces back into the game as he levelled matters on 61 minutes. Mokoena was not done however, as his perfectly-placed shot found the top corner with fifteen minutes to go as he scored his second of the match. And that’s how it stayed, as Sundowns held on to their 2-1 lead to book their place in the Final of this year’s MultiChoice Diski Challenge, where they face Tshwane rivals University of Pretoria, who beat SuperSport on penalties earlier in the day, in Soweto on 28 February.

Mamelodi Sundowns striker Nyasha Mushekwi’s proposed loan move to Denmark Superligaen club Hobro IK appears likely to fall through, with the Zimbabwean stuck in limbo again. Hobro – a small club with limited financial resources playing in the Danish top league for the first time in their history – have also not made any mention of Mushekwi’s signing. The only Zimbabwean on their books is Quincy Antipas, whom they had to stretch their budget to sign from Brondby IF at the beginning of the season. Ralph Nkomo, who manages Mushekwi’s football interests, said the move is unlikely to happen due to sticky matters. “There are still things that need to be sorted but I don’t think it will happen anymore and we will look into his situation at the end of the season,” said Nkomo. Nkomo also confirms that Mushekwi remains in Johannesburg and remains contracted to Sundowns until the end of the season. It also remains unclear how Mushekwi’s move to Hobro would have happened outside the January transfer window following the emergence of reports that he signed last week.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have signed former Chippa United midfielder Dumisani Zwane. The 25-year-old, who was previously a free agent, has penned a deal that will expire at the end of the season. Aces announced the news on their official Facebook page. Zwane joins Dino Ndlovu, Aubrey Modiba, Sifiso Molefe, David Krone and Siyabonga Vilane as newcomers to AmaZayoni.

Bafana Bafana have dropped four places to 56th in the latest world rankings, released by Fifa last Thursday. Bafana, who exited the recent Africa Cup of Nations at the first hurdle, are 14th in Africa. Algeria retain top spot on the continent, followed by Afcon champions Ivory Coast and beaten finalists Ghana. World Cup holders Germany remain at the summit globally, ahead of South American pair Argentina and Colombia.
World top 10: Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Netherlands, Brazil, Portugal, France, Uruguay, Spain.
Africa top 10: Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Tunisia, Cape Verde, Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Congo DR.

CAF have picked their official team of the tournament for the 2015 Africa Cup of the Nations, which does not include Bafana Bafana attacker Sibusiso Vilakazi. A CAF media panel selected Vilakazi in a 'Dream Team' for the continental showpiece earlier this week, despite the Bidvest Wits midfielder only starting two group games in Equatorial Guinea. The Dream Team also bizarrely excluded the player of the tournament, Ghana winger Christian Atsu. Africa's football controlling body has since confirmed their official team of the competition, strangely consisting of 12 players.

CAF Team of the Tournament:
Goalkeeper: Sylvain Gbohouo (Côte d’Ivoire) – Robert Kidiaba (RD Congo).
Defenders: Serge Aurier (Côte d’Ivoire), Harrison Afful (Ghana), Kolo Toure (Côte d’Ivoire).
Midfielders: Andre Ayew (Ghana), Yaya Toure (Côte d’Ivoire), Max Alain Gradel (Côte d’Ivoire), Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo), Gervinho (Côte d’Ivoire).
Forwards: Christian Atsu (Ghana), Wilfried Bony (Côte d’Ivoire).

Award winners:
Tournament: Côte d’Ivoire.
Player of the tournament: Christian Atsu (Ghana).
Top Scorer: André Ayew (Ghana), 3 Goals with 2 assists.
Best Goalkeeper: Sylvain Gbohouo (Côte d’Ivoire).
Goal of the Tournament: Christian Atsu (Ghana) [3rd goal against Guinea].
Fair Play team: DR Congo.
Fair Player of the Tournament: Kwesi Appiah (Ghana).
Fair Player of the Final (CIV-GHA): Wilfried Bony (Côte d’Ivoire).
Man of the Match in Final (CIV-GHA): Afriyie Acquah (Ghana).

The case against Kaizer Chiefs midfielder George Lebese has been postponed to March after he appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court last week. Lebese faced up to charges of assault and malicious damage to property following allegations that he raised his hands against his girlfriend and smashed her car windows. The 26-year-old is now due back in court on March 9 pending further investigation. Lebese was arrested in Silverton last week and released on R1 000 bail.

AmaZulu right-back Larry Horaeb has been ruled out for the season with a broken leg. Usuthu coach Steve Barker has revealed the Namibian faces six months on the sidelines. “Horaeb has injured his leg once again and by the look of things he will be out for the next six months,” Barker told the club's website.

SuperSport United have suffered another injury setback after midfielder Lebogang Manyama was ruled out for three to four weeks with an ankle injury. Manyama has suffered an ankle injury that is set to keep him out of coach Gordon Igesund’s plans for close to a month. This after United signed another injured midfielder in Daine Klate during the recent transfer window. Manyama has said that he suffered the injury during a recent friendly match against Angolan outfit Petro de Luanda, which Matsatsantsa won 4-0. “I twisted my ankle in the friendly match we played against the team from Angola,” the 24-year-old revealed. “Test results showed that I tore my ligaments, and the doctor said I would be out for about three to four weeks.” Though Manyama is currently on crutches, Igesund will be relieved that the former Ajax Cape Town stalwart will not need surgery to repair his injured ankle.

Orlando Pirates administrative officer Floyd Mbele has been questioned by police on allegations of fraud, according to a report in the Sowetan. The Sowetan reports Mbele and former Platinum Stars official Obed Legobate have been accused of scamming close to R1-million from a deceased estate. According to the report, Mbele and Legobate were questioned by police at the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Unit but no decision has been made whether to prosecute them. The money was allegedly taken from the Standard Bank account of an 85-year-old, who lived in Australia for a decade prior to dying in 2013.

SA players abroad round-up: Dean Furman scored his first league goal of the season, Andile Jali lasted 45 minutes, Darren Keet watched on, while Thulani Serero made his return off the bench in European action on the weekend.

Furman netted to help English League One side Doncaster Rovers to a 3-0 win over bottom side Yeovil Town, a victory that moves them within a point of the promotion play-off places with a game in hand.
Jali played the first half of KV Oostende’s 1-0 win at Mouscron-Péruwelz before he was replaced.
Keet has been unable to win his place back in the Kortrijk side since returning from the African Nations Cup and was on the bench again.
Serero returned from a groin injury and came off the bench for the final 20 minutes of Ajax Amsterdam’s 4-2 home win over FC Twente.
English Championship leaders Bournemouth were without Rantie for the second game running as he was sidelined with a shoulder injury. The Cherries played to a 1-1 draw with Huddersfield Town.
Mahlangu was a late substitute for Turkish side Konyaspor as they lost 1-0 at home to Sivasspor. The midfielder played the final seven minutes.
Mokotjo was substituted in injury-time of FC Twente’s 4-2 loss to Ajax Amsterdam on Sunday.
Patosi came off in the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s 1-1 draw at league leaders Club Brugge, a good result for Lokeren.
Ngconcga started for Genk as they won 2-1 at Westerlo.
All three started for Livingston as they played Scottish Championship leaders Hearts for the second time in a week and again lost, this time 1-0.   
Ntlhe came on at half-time for Peterborough United as they won 2-1 at home to Rochdale.

The league season in Poland is back underway after the winter break and former Bafana Bafana left-back Nunes started for Pogoń Szczecin as they held third-placed Lech Poznań to a 1-1 draw.