Local News - Issue 247

SA U-17 Qualify For World Cup By Securing Semi-Final Berth
Amajimbos coach Molefi Ntseki was naturally in high spirits after his side made history by qualifying for the U-17 World Cup. South Africa booked a ticket to the Fifa event for the first time by reaching the semi-finals of the African Youth Championship with a 3-1 win over Cameroon on Sunday. Amajimbos will battle Nigeria on Wednesday for a place in the Final in Niamey, Niger on March 1. Mali and Guinea will contest the other semi-final, with all four teams earning the right to represent the continent at the U-17 World Cup, taking place in Chile from October 17 to November 8. "We are grateful to God firstly for always being with us, we believe that the entire country is happy," Ntseki said. “I like to thank the South African Football Association and the technical team for all their hard work. Cameroon came with a plan but we had prepared for them very well."

Santos striker Fagrie Lakay has been withdrawn from the South Africa U-20 team after failing to recover from a hamstring injury. Amajita will depart on Wednesday for Senegal to compete at the 2015 African Youth Championship, taking place from March 8 to 22. “We would have loved to travel with Fagrie to Senegal as he has proved to be an integral part of this team. His immense contribution got us to where we are today – who can forget the two crucial goals he scored in Polokwane when we defeated Cameroon in the second leg to qualify for the AYC,” said Amajita coach Thabiso Senong. Fagrie joins three other players on the injury list who were part of the qualifiers - goalkeeper Jethren Barr from Wits (dislocated finger), striker Tshepo Liphoko from AmaZulu (big toe on the right foot) and defender Denwin Farmer from SuperSport (left knee injury).

New SuperSport United striker Jeremy Brockie says he is thrilled with his start at his new club, yet insists he will not take his foot off the pedal. The New Zealand international has enjoyed an impressive start in Pretoria since joining in January, scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Mpumalanga Black Aces on his debut before netting the opener as SuperSport stunned Kaizer Chiefs 2-0 last week. Matsatsantsa became the first side to take all three points off Amakhosi this season, and Brockie revealed his team were optimistic heading into the encounter against the runaway league leaders. “We were confident,” the 27-year-old said. “We had a good win against Black Aces a few days earlier and we knew we have enough quality in our side to compete with anyone. We worked hard on our preparation for Chiefs and it was a happy changing room knowing we were the first team to beat the Chiefs this season.” Following a goalless first-half against Chiefs, Brockie made special mention of coach Gordon Igesund’s motivational half-time talk, with the striker’s goal coming just four minutes after the re-start. “He [Igesund] just encouraged us to be a bit more patient on the ball in midfield and push forward a bit more to support the front two strikers,” he says. “He told us to believe in ourselves and we will get the win.” The New Zealander says he is delighted with his good start at his new club, but insists he still wants to improve and is willing to continue his hard work to keep up his early good run of form.

Kaizer Chiefs striker Siphelele Mthembu says work on the training ground paid off as he netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 demolition of Edu Sport in the Nedbank Cup on Saturday. Mthembu put in a man-of-the-match display, with fellow forward Katlego Mphela also finding the net in the last-32 tie at FNB Stadium. “It was all worked out at practice and, above all, through extra training,” Mthembu told Amakhosi's official website. “The coach instructed us to work on our heading at goal. He worked with us to perfect the set-pieces. I am glad it all worked out.” The former Platinum Stars man added: “From here onwards I hope to continue improving, score more goals and help the team win.”

Golden Arrows coach Shaun Bartlett says the NFD leaders have no reason to fear any opponent going forward in the Nedbank Cup. Arrows earned a spot in the last-16 draw on Tuesday, having edged ailing topflight neighbours AmaZulu 2-1 at Princess Magogo Stadium this past Friday. "I don't think we have to [fear anybody], I don't think we have to... we are confident enough and we will show that on the field where it matters," says Bartlett. "Team sheets are different than playing on the field. I have to pay tribute though to the players first, because they have responded to my tactics and methods, which means the positive thing I must be doing something right and we just have to continue. I have to keep my feet on the ground, as much as the players have to and the results will come on our way as long as we work hard." Bartlett has faith his team can juggle their promotion ambitions with their commitments in the Cup. Abafana Bes'thende are a point above Jomo Cosmos at the second-tier summit after 18 games.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has explained why Morgan Gould wore the armband in the 4-0 win over Edu Sport in the Nedbank Cup, and not Itumeleng Khune or Siphiwe Tshabalala. Current Amakhosi skipper Tefu Mashamaite was rested for the last-32 tie on Saturday, leaving many to assume that fit-again goalkeeper Khune would reclaim the role. Khune was the club's long-standing captain before a lengthy ankle injury saw Mashamaite take on the job. Tshabalala's seniority at Naturena also makes the midfielder a natural candidate to lead, but Baxter opted for Gould, who has been reduced to a squad player this season. Baxter told Chiefs' official website: "Itumeleng Khune and Shabba [Tshabalala] wanted to focus on their performance in the absence of Tefu Mashamaite, who got a break for this game. Morgan has a lot of experience and he was therefore being appointed the captain," he added of the ex-SuperSport United captain.

Former Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs star John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu is reportedly ill and fighting for his life at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. The Sunday Sun reports that Moshoeu, now 49, “was admitted to the public hospital three weeks ago and is in a critical condition”. The ex-midfielder is said to have been in and out private hospitals in the last few months. Moshoeu was part of the Bafana team that won the 1996 African Nations Cup on home soil and still holds a special place in the hearts of South African football fans. Lesiba began his career in Diepkloof with a local amateur side Blue Whales before joining Kaizer Chiefs' reserve side. After failing to break in to the Chiefs first team, Moshoeu joined Giant Blackpool where he teamed up with the likes of Fani Madida and Jury Bantwana. In 1991 he helped Blackpool reach the infamous JPS Cup Final where he ended up on the losing side against Dynamos. Moshoeu returned to Amakhosi for his second spell in 1993 before leaving for Turkey where he had stints with Genclerbirligi and Fenerbahce. His return to South Africa saw him re-uniting with Amakhosi for his third and final spell and he helped the team win back-to-back League titles under Ted Dumitru. Moshoeu's form also saw him selected for the 2004 African Nations Cup at the age of 38.

Ajax Cape Town CEO Ari Efstathiou believes defender Rivaldo Coetzee could be lost to South African football as he continues to attract offers from overseas. Coetzee has been an integral player for the Urban Warriors, and last year broke into the Bafana Bafana set-up after Shakes Mashaba took over as national team coach. “I definitely doubt whether Rivaldo Coetzee will here next season,” Efstathiou said. “Since he got back from the Nations Cup, you won’t believe how many calls I’ve been getting from overseas clubs. He is a good player with a great future.” Coetzee was also part of the national Under-20 side that qualified for the CAF Youth Championships. Amajita are currently in camp preparing for the tournament in Senegal, but Efstathiou says Coetzee will not be released. “We are certainly not releasing Rivaldo. This is the most crucial part of the season and we need him to be in the team. So he is not going.”

Former Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar made a long-awaited return from injury last week. The midfielder has been plagued by muscle tears all season, but played 70 minutes of an Under-21 match against Manchester United. Also back for the Toffees was Leon Osman, who split a tendon in his foot in December.

Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder Joel Mogorosi is set to exit Phunya Sele Sele at the end of the season. Mogorosi's contract expires in June and the Botswana international will not be offered fresh terms, according to a source within the club. "Joel's contract with Celtic is set to expire at the end of the season and the club is not interested to renew it, with more focus on bringing more youngsters into the team next season," says the informant. Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco confirmed Mogorosi's deal is nearing its end, and there have been no negotiations over an extension.

Alje Schut will be leaving Mamelodi Sundowns at the end of this season and has cited his reasons. The Sundowns captain is hoping to continue playing next year, but his main focus will be on getting his coaching badges. The Dutchman is in the last five months of his contract at Chloorkop, having already announced his decision to return to the Netherlands at the end of the season. Schut, who captained Sundowns to the Absa Premiership title last season, says he has already started planning for the future, which could include a return to South Africa. “I have made up my mind [that I’m leaving],” he says. “It’s not about Sundowns; I have been enjoying myself at the club and South Africa has amazing people. I am happy at Sundowns; it’s just that my family wants to go home and I had to choose what’s best for them.” Schut added: “I still want to play next year. I don’t know at which level, but I have few options in Holland. I am also interested in doing my coaching badges. I have to see if can try to juggle around coaching and playing or studying Sports Management because eventually I see myself being a technical director.” Schut has not ruled out the possibility of returning to South Africa, saying: "I have a good relationship with the president [Patrice Motsepe]. I also have a good relationship with the other coaches and speak to Stuart Baxter, Roger de Sa and Steve Komphela. I have people here that I speak to and I hope to continue to speak to them to teach me more about coaching and how it’s like to work here.”

Georgian midfielder Giorgi Nergadze says he is patiently waiting for his chance to play again following an injury-ravaged start to his career at Bidvest Wits. Nergadze – a reliable midfield workhorse – has only played four games with his last appearance having been back on August 26 and he admits he is caught up in an unusual situation. “I had too many injuries at the end of August ranging from groin to calf and was only back in full training at the end of November. I am back now but the challenge is that the team is doing well so I really have to learn to be patient,” he said.  “Though I am not used to this situation it is understandable when the coach doesn’t want to change his winning team. It is really tough for me but I have to hold on and just make sure that I am ready when I get my chance. I will obviously also make sure that I do my best when the chance to play arrives again,” says Nergadze. The 32-year-old arrived at Wits at the beginning of the season having established himself as a dependable midfielder also capable of playing at the back during the four years that he spent at Moroka Swallows.

Soweto’s Nike Football Centre will host the MultiChoice Diski Challenge Final between University of Pretoria and Mamelodi Sundowns. The finale of the PSL Reserve League season will take place on Saturday, 28 February at 12h00. Launched on 12 August last year, the tournament’s first games kicked off on 13 September. To date the tournament has seen 62 games being played between all 16 of the PSL Reserve League teams with a total of 181 goals being scored. The final match will close off what has truly been an exciting tournament aimed at supporting the development of football in South Africa. The day will kick off at 10h00 with the 3rd/4th place playoff between Mpumalanga Black Aces and SuperSport United. Thereafter, AmaTuks and Sundowns will battle it out for the trophy, gold medals, a coveted eight-day trip to the Netherlands and the opportunity of being crowned the first ever MCDC champions. The two games will be broadcast live on SuperSport (SS4 HD) on DStv channel 204. Entry into the stadium is free and tickets are available at all Shoprite/Checkers stores and Computicket outlets across the province. A limit of two tickets per person per day will apply. No tickets will be issued at the ground on matchday.
Saturday, 28 February
10h00 Black Aces vs SuperSport United (3rd/4th Playoff)
12h00 University of Pretoria vs Mamelodi Sundowns (Final)

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Teko Modise has not given up hope of playing for the national team again. The 32-year-old has not donned the Bafana Bafana jersey since November 2012, but such has been his form this season that many soccer fans are now calling for his recall. Modise still has belief that he will represent his country again, but concedes that the ball is not in his court. "I still believe in my heart that I will play again for Bafana, even if it is just one match," he said. "But it is not up to me at the end of the day. It is up to the people who select the team and they have their own criteria. I will always respect that and I will never question them. They are in charge and for me I must perform week in and week out, irrespective of whether I'm called into the squad."

SA players abroad: It was largely a tough weekend for South Africans abroad.  
Serero came off the bench for the final quarter of the game as Ajax Amsterdam were held 1-1 at Willem II to all but surrender their league championship to leaders PSV Eindhoven.
Jali missed KV Oostende’s 3-1 home loss to Charleroi through injury.
Rantie was again missing with a shoulder injury as Bournemouth slipped to third with a 3-1 loss at Brentford.
Mahlangu was left on the bench for Turkish side Konyaspor as they were beaten 3-0 away at Kayseri Erciyesspor.
Mokotjo played for FC Twente as they slipped to a fourth Dutch Eredivisie defeat in a row with a 2-1 home loss to Vitesse.
Keet was again on the bench as his Kortrijk side thumped Westerlo 6-0.
Furman’s Doncaster Rovers dropped out of the English League One play-off places after a 3-0 loss to Port Vale. Furman played the full game.
Ngcongca started for Genk as they went down 1-0 at home to Anderlecht to slip out of the top six in Belgium.
Patosi played for Lokeren as they claimed a 1-0 home win over Mouscron-Péruwelz to move to within two points of a top-six finish in the regular season and a place in the championship play-offs.
Ntlhe started as Peterborough United lost 3-0 at Milton Keynes Dons.
Nunes was a second-half substitute for Polish side Pogoń Szczecin as they drew 1-1 at Wisła Krakow.
Phiri re-started the Danish league with a 1-0 loss for his Brondby side at Aalborg. The young midfielder played the full 90 minutes.

Nedbank Cup Results
Wednesday, February 18
Black Aces 2-1 Maritzburg United
Orlando Pirates 4-0 Tornado
Friday, February 20
AmaZulu 1-2 Golden Arrows
Saturday, February 21
Phiva Young Stars 0-1 Jomo Cosmos
Bellevue Winners Park 2-3 Vasco Da Gama
Black Leopards 6-2 FC Cape Town
Chippa United 2-4 on penalties Natal United
Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 Edu Sports FC
Mamelodi Sundowns 2-0 Thanda Royal Zulu FC
Wits 4-2 on penalties Free State Stars
Sunday, February 22
Platinum Stars 3-0 The Magic FC
African Warriors 1-2  Maluti FET College
Bloemfontein Celtic 3-0 Roses United
Mainstay United 1-9 Ajax Cape Town
Wednesday, February 25
University of Pretoria v Moroka Swallows - 19:30
SuperSport United v Polokwane City - 19:30