Local News - Issue 251

Freese Frozen Out By Platinum Stars
Coach Allan Freese looks set to know his fate with Platinum Stars before the end of this week. Freese was placed on 'special leave' last week due to Dikwena's poor performance in the league this season, with the club lying 13th on the log with 24 points after 22 games. Freese's former assistant Willem Jackson oversaw the side's 3-1 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns in the Nedbank Cup on the weekend. Mazingiza says the decision to relieve Freese of his duties was not taken lightly. Mazingiza adds that it was natural for Jackson to be handed temporary control of the team. Ian Palmer and Cavin Johnson have been linked with the Stars hotseat, but Mazingiza is tight-lipped on the talk.

Mamelodi Sundowns will visit Mpumalanga Black Aces, while Bidvest Wits will travel to Ajax Cape Town in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals. The games will take place on April 11/12, with the venues yet to be confirmed by the Premier Soccer League. The PSL held the last-eight draw at Southgate Mall in Johannesburg on Monday.
Draw results:
Mpumalanga Black Aces vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Ajax CT vs Bidvest Wits
Black Leopards vs Vasco da Gama
SuperSport United vs Golden Arrows

Kaizer Chiefs' Absa Premiership fixture with AmaZulu has been rescheduled for April 9 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. The fixture was initially set for the day before, but Chiefs requested the change in light of their CAF Champions League commitments. Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter has also given his players three days off during the current international break. The Glamour Boys will return to training on Wednesday as they get set for a Champions League first round, second leg clash with Raja Casablanca on April 4.

The South African Under-23 Men’s team lost 2-0 to Sudan in the first leg of the 2015 All Africa Games qualifier played at the El Obied Stadium in Sudan on Sunday. Despite the defeat, coach Owen Da Gama said he was confident of reversing the scoreline when the two meet in South Africa in two weeks’ time during the return leg. South Africa will host Sudan on 11 April 2015 in the second leg of the All Africa Games qualifier back in South Africa.

Banyana Banyana beat Botswana 1–0 in the first leg of the All-Africa Games qualifier match at Molepolole Stadium on the outskirts of Gaborone on Saturday. The only goal of the match by Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies player Sanah Mollo gave Vera Pauw’s charges the victory and a comfortable position with an away-goal ahead of the return leg which will be played in South Africa in April.

Bafana Bafana trio Dean Furman, May Mahlangu and Anele Ngcongca have been ruled out of the upcoming friendlies with Swaziland and Nigeria. South Africa will tackle neighbours Swaziland on Wednesday at Lobamba's Somhlolo Stadium (kick-off: 19h00), before hosting the Super Eagles at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday (ko: 15h30). The squad will, however be without two injured players – midfielder Mahlangu and defender Ngcongca, as well as Furman. Mahlangu is recovering in South Africa and reported for camp on Sunday where he was checked by the team doctor Thulani Ngwenya. Mahlangu has since been released from camp due to a fractured bone in his foot. Ngcongca’s club Racing Genk has informed Bafana that the player is suffering from an Achilles tendon problem and will not be able to honour the national call-up. Ngwenya has spoken to their medical team and the club will forward the scan results for him to peruse. Meanwhile, Doncaster Rovers FC midfielder Furman has been excused from international duty at his League One club's request.

Ajax Cape Town have handed a contract to 16-year-old defender Sebastian Lucas. Lucas will campaign in the club's ABC Motsepe League [third tier] team, according to the Urban Warriors website. The left-footed player has been with the coastal outfit since the age of 11, joining from Old Mutual Academy in 2010.

Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Mashaba was reportedly robbed of several items, including a laptop and two cell phones, last Thursday evening. According to SA Breaking News, the items were stolen from 'Shakes''s car while he was in a fast food outlet in Auckland Park. “A number of personal items were stolen, among them my two cell phones and a laptop,” Shakes is quoted as telling Metro FM’s Robert Marawa.

Veteran Mpumalanga Black Aces goalkeeper Calvin Marlin says he will only make an informed decision about his playing future at the end of the season despite being elevated to the position of goalkeeper coach-cum-assistant coach. Following the departure of head coach of Clive Barker and his support staff of assistant Johnny Ferreira and goalkeeper coach Ernest Mabouka the club has thrust Jacob Sakala into the hot seat with Marlin providing back-up as goalkeeper coach and assistant coach.“I have to wait until the end of the season to see what happens. I have been registered as a player all along and I remain that for now though I now also have to do the goalkeeper training work while also coming in as an assistant in the interim. “Since the current position is just up to the end of the season I will only be making a decision at the end of the season once I have also gotten guidelines from the club. Though I also have coaching duties I will still be a back-up keeper to Jackie [Jackson Mabokgwane] and Bafana [Nhlapo],” Marlin says. A month short of his 39th birthday, Marlin is the oldest player registered in the PSL this season. He has not played an official game for Aces since joining at the beginning of last season with his last taste of action being on April 21, 2012 when he was still at Mamelodi Sundowns. Sakala has also confirmed that he will be working with Marlin up to the end of the season with no assistant being brought in for now.

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune has revealed that he has lost two endorsement deals thanks to the time he has spent on the sidelines.
Khune was addressing the media at a Nedbank Cup last 16 briefing earlier today and admitted his frustration at having to sit out injured. "Things haven't been going well. I've lost two endorsement deals since I haven't been playing for club and country," Khune revealed."It was frustrating to go through the same injury as last season. I told myself that when I get back, I need to do what Itu Khune does best. It feels great to be back in the mix. I've been missing training, the crowd and the fans have given me a good reception. The number one tag brings excitement. Pressure is always there. Even when I go pour petrol there is pressure." Khune has recently reclaimed his starting place in goal after Brilliant Khuzwayo impressed during his absence. "To be commenting on the number one job is not my responsibility. The coach has the final say," he added.

Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Lindokuhle Mbatha is considering making a move back to Platinum Stars next season. The 29-year-old has failed to break into Sundowns' first-team squad on a regular basis this season and is also not registered for the CAF Champions League. According to a source close to Mbatha, Dikwena have shown huge interest in bringing the player back to the club next season. "He is frustrated with the lack of game-time at Sundowns. Mpumalanga Black Aces are also monitoring his situation at Sundowns," says the source. Mbatha played for AmaZayoni before joining Platinum Stars, where he excelled last season before joining Sundowns.

Orlando Pirates legend Jomo Sono has distanced himself from the ownership saga that involved the club and his half-brother, Julius. Julius, the son of Bucs legend Eric 'Scara' Sono, has reportedly questioned the legality of Dr Irvin Khoza's stake in the Soweto outfit, but Jomo has made it clear that Julius’ claim has nothing to do with the Sonos. “I have tried to avoid the issue of KK (Julius), because it is none of my business,” Jomo stresses. “He is my half-brother, but he’s got his own mind. He does his own thing. I cannot control him. I don’t want to get involved and I can see they have tried to drag me into this, but I don’t want to get involved,” he insists. “I’m happy where I am and we had a family meeting to discuss the matter and they all feel the same. Pirates can deal with him and I wouldn’t get involved. I can only get involved if it is my children, but he is not my child and he is a father of children. So it has nothing to do with the Sono family. For your information, what he has done (with Pirates) he has done it with Cosmos as well, so it is nothing new. Let Pirates handle it, because that’s their baby,” Sono adds. The ‘Iron Duke’ also responded to Julius’ claims, saying, ‘It is really painful to see the son of an Orlando Pirates great, Eric 'Scara' Sono in such a sad state of mind’. Khoza has been the owner of Pirates since 1991.

Moroka Swallows defender-cum-striker Ashraf Hendricks says he is enjoying his transition into a striker after spending most of his playing career as a centre-back.
Hendricks has only scored one goal this season and says he will play wherever the coach asks him to, depending on the opponents. "For me, I'm enjoying it and wherever the coach asks me to play, I will play," he says."The thing is, the club at this point needed to change the style of play, but me playing up front it's depending on the coach where he wants me to play. If we play shorter with a quick pace to the game, then he will use other strikers who are quicker than me and who also have more pace up front and more speed."

Former Bafana Bafana skipper Bongani Khumalo was lauded by his coach after helping new club Colchester United to victory in his debut last Wednesday night.  The defender, who had been turning out for Tottenham Hotspur’s U-21 side, secured a loan move to the struggling League One outfit last week, making his debut last night in a 2-0 home win over fellow strugglers Yeovil Town. Colchester coach Tony Humes was full of praise for his new recruit, describing him as “unruffled” and “composed”. “Bongani is an experienced player and he brings that with him – it was a good debut and he looked very unruffled the whole game,” Humes told reporters after the game. “He’s played in World Cup finals for South Africa so he should be able to cope with whatever situation, having done what he’s done in the past. He looked very unruffled and very composed in what he did. He defended well and did his job as was asked and led the back four very well.” Humes is expecting even more from the former SuperSport United defender in future, as he looks to guide his team out the relegation zone. “He’d only had two training sessions with us, so the club and the players around him are very new to him,” he said. “But he watched the (Crawley) game (last Saturday) and he’s an astute person. He recognised the strengths and weaknesses of the players around him, how we want to play and what’s required." Colchester currently lie 23rd out of 24 teams in the League One standings, with Wednesday night’s victory their first after four successive defeats.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says that the club’s trialist James Keene will know his fate before the end of the week. The 29-year-old forward has been on trial for the past few days and Baxter seems keen on the Englishman in an attempt to bolster Chiefs’ attack for at least until the end of the current campaign. “I have seen James for a long time. He played at Portsmouth as a keeper and he moved to Sweden, where he played most of his professional career [as a striker] so I’ve seen him for a long time,” says Baxter. “He’s been in Israel and the last time he played in the Indian League [for NorthEast United]. He’s available for us to sign if we want to and I think he is an interesting player, because he has a proven goalscoring record,” he says. However, the stumbling block could be the work permit which is usually a long process hence Baxter wants to make a quick decision so Keene may be available for some of Chiefs’ remaining matches.“We're gonna have a look at him and make a decision before the weekend. He has to go back and that’s why we want to make a quick decision. It is only for until the end of the season and if he impresses we will look at long term,” he adds.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt believes 16-year-old midfielder Liam Jordan can make it in Europe provided he works hard and stays grounded. Jordan, who is the son of the late former Bafana Bafana striker Keryn, made his Wits debut off the bench in a 3-0 victory over University of Pretoria in the Nedbank Cup last night. “I had Benni [McCarthy] when he was a 17-year-old and I had Sheppy [Dillon Sheppard] when he was 16,” says Hunt. “And I think Liam is on a par. He can play in Europe, no doubt, he is technically very good and he can play in a number of positions. He got a bit caught tonight, the pace was high and he has not played much. He has huge potential but so have many other players and we know what happens to potential in South Africa. He must keep his feet on the ground and work hard. We need to bed him down in terms of how we are going to use him going forward. If he stays, which is highly unlikely, he should play a big part next season.”

Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba has thrown the biggest hint that he will not stress too much about trying to involve PSL players at the forthcoming Cosafa Cup tournament in the North West. Though the regional tournament will be played just after the closure of the Absa Premiership (May 17-31) there is no guarantee that PSL clubs will be keen on releasing their players as this competition falls on non-FIFA calendar dates. As one of the ranked teams, Bafana Bafana will start off at the quarter-final stage against Botswana on May 25 and will be guaranteed of at least three games regardless of whether they win or lose their last-eight meeting with the Zebras.“We have had discussions with the hierarchy at SAFA about that and we have agreed that we have to spread our wings in the selection of players for this tournament,” says Mashaba. “I say this because you have to understand that the PSL are running a programme as well and we cannot keep on interfering with it because there are sponsorship issues. We just need to make sure that we work with what we have rather than creating friction with the clubs who might feel some of their players need to rest.” With five players from the Castle Lager Football Academy invited to join camp for the games against Swaziland and Nigeria this month, the veteran gaffer further explains that he will also tap into the third tier, the junior national teams and the MultiChoice Diski Challenge if the situation so calls. “The five players from the Castle Lager Football Academy that we will be bringing into the next camp will be all about making them understand what is happening and we will even go to ABC Motsepe League and the MultiChoice Diski Challenge. We also have the national Under-23 team that is playing in the All Africa Games qualifiers and that is a team that we will look at in terms of making a base for the Chan and Cosafa tournaments,” he said.

Golden Arrows are at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland this week challenging a dispute over unpaid wages with former coach Ernst Middendorp and goalkeeper coach Kurt Kowarz. The National First Division leaders are disputing two Fifa decisions in favour of the German pair, who took the club to court for unpaid wages after they were fired just over three years ago Middendorp worked at Arrows from April 2011, coming late in the season to replace Zoran Filipovic, to September the same year. He was famously fired the day after his side beat Kaizer Chiefs in Polokwane. Kowarz, a former Bundesliga goalkeeper with FC Nuremburg, was brought to Arrows by Middendorp as a goalkeeper coach. He now works as Germany’s Under-20 team goalkeeper coach. Both took Arrows to Fifa to be paid out the balance of their contracts. At the time of Middendorp’s appointment in 2011, he was reported to have signed a one-year deal which means he was still owed some six months wages. A decision could take several weeks to be made public. Arrows were involved in a long legal dispute with midfielder Clifford Ngobeni, now at Mpumalanga Black Aces, over their failure to pay him the last 12 months of an 18-month loan deal from Orlando Pirates. The case went on for more than two years but was eventually ruled in Arrows’ favour.

South African players abroad:
Furman helped Doncaster Rovers come from behind to claim a 3-1 win at Coventry City that keeps their promotion hopes alive. They are three points off sixth place and the promotion play-offs.
Mokotjo played the full game for FC Twente as they were held to a 2-2 draw by Groningen in the Dutch Eredivisie.
Rantie was a late substitute for English Championship side Bournemouth as they moved back to the top of the division with a 3-0 home win over Middlesbrough.
Khumalo started his second game in a week for new English League One side Colchester United as they let a late lead slip to draw 2-2 at Gillingham.
Mahlangu was again missing for Turkish side Konyaspor as he continues to recover from a fractured ankle.
Phiri celebrated his first Bafana Bafana call-up by helping Danish side Brondby to a 1-0 away win over FC Vestsjælland that sees them move up to fourth.
Serero was restored to the Ajax Amsterdam starting line-up for Sunday’s 1-0 home win over ADO Den Haag.
Xulu was again an unused substitute for Russian Premier League side FC Rostov as he seeks an exit from the club at the end of the season. They lost 2-0 at Rubin Kazan to stay bottom of the table.
Marakis returned to the match day squad at Portuguese second-tier side Portimonense for the first time this year having overcome injury. He remained on the bench though.
Nkili did not get off the bench as his side reached the Swedish Cup Final with a 2-0 win over Elfsborg. They will meet IFK Goteborg in the Final on May 17.
Ntlhe’s Peterborough United won 1-0 at home to Chesterfield to move up to sixth in the English League One and into the promotion play-offs.
Ntuli was an unused substitute for Jong FC Twente as they claimed a fine 1-0 win over Oss in the Dutch second division.
Nunes came on at half-time for Polish topflight club Pogoń Szczecin as they won 3-0 at home to Bełchatow.