Local News - Issue 254

Nedbank Semi-Final Draw Pits Sundowns Against Vasco
Mamelodi Sundowns will host Vasco da Gama, while Ajax Cape Town will entertain SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals. The Premier Soccer League decided the match-ups by holding a draw straight after Sundowns beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-0 in a last-eight tie at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The dates, times and venues for the semi-finals are yet to be confirmed. Ajax defeated Bidvest Wits, SuperSport got the better of Golden Arrows, while Vasco saw off NFD rivals Black Leopards in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Lebogang Mothibantwa has taken charge of Garankuwa United as a player-coach. Mothibantwa has a daunting task ahead as the Tshwane-based club are second-from-bottom on the NFD standings with 16 points from 25 games. "They asked me to help based on my experience in football," Mothibantwa, who recently had a short stint in Cyprus said. "It has been my ambition to go into coaching after my playing days." He added: "We will keep fighting. The spirit is there and we are working hard to try to survive relegation."

The PSL has given Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune five days to explain the comments he made about match officials on Twitter. Khune sent out some controversial comments following his sending-off against AmaZulu last week. He was first booked for time wasting and then again for showing dissent at the decision of referee Phillip Tinyane. “The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has written to Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune as per provisions of the PSL Rules to admit or deny certain comments attributed to him on the social media network Twitter on Thursday, 09 April 2015. The comments related to match officials appointed to officiate the Absa Premiership fixture between Kaizer Chiefs and Amazulu on 9 April 2015. Khune has been afforded five days to respond.”
Khune’s Twitter comments: “Its about time action is taken against this referees by  @OfficialPSL. They've been very poor since beginning of the season. “Its unfair how we are painted bad for our actions on de field but we are provoked by these referees, can call me names but I stand 4 what's right.”

Kaizer Chiefs are planning to return to the negotiation table with Tefu Mashamaite's representatives with a new and improved offer. According to an unnamed source, both parties are eager to extend the 31-year-old defender's stay at the club. Amakhosi recently offered their skipper a one-year extension, but it is thought that Mashamaite is holding out for a longer deal and more money. Mashamaite joined the Glamour Boys from Bidvest Wits in 2011 and was handed the captain's armband earlier this season following an injury to goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune. He has proven to be Stuart Baxter’s most played player and one of the top performers in the Englishman’s reign.

Promotion-chasing Thanda Royal Zulu have appointed Roger Sikhakhane as their new coach straight after parting ways with Vladislav Heric. Heric was released by Thanda following a protracted wait for his work permit from the Department of Home Affairs. Thabani Gumede, the Thanda GM, confirms the appointment of Sikhakhane – who has been without a job since being shown the door at Chippa United at the end of last year. “Roger has taken over as our new coach because we felt we needed to have a coach on the bench for the remaining six games since we are now in a Play-Offs position. We couldn’t keep going on without a head coach on the bench when other teams that we are competing with are fully equipped,” says Gumede. Thanda next travel to Milano United on Sunday.

Gabon have been named as the host of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. The West African country saw of the challenges of Algeria and Ghana to host the continent’s showpiece event after Lybia withdrew. Gabon was a co-host when the tournament took place in 2012. The three tournaments after that will be hosted by Cameroon (2019), Ivory Coast (2021) and Guinea (2023).

Bafana have been drawn in Group M for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers following the draw in Cairo last Wednesday. South Africa are joined in the group by Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania. Cameroon are ranked 49th, Gambia are 168th and Mauritania are 115th. South Africa are currently 55th. The group winners and two best second placed teams will join hosts Gabon at the finals.

Group A
Tunisia, Togo, Liberia, Djibouti
Group B
Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, Central Africa Republic, Madagascar
Group C
Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Benin, South Sudan
Group D
Burkina Faso, Uganda, Botswana, Comoros
Group E
Zambia, Congo, Kenya, Guinea Bissau
Group F
Cape Verde, Morocco, Libya, Sao Tome
Group G
Nigeria, Egypt, Tanzania, Chad
Group H
Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda, Mauritius
Group I
Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Gabon
Group J
Algeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Seychelles
Group K
Senegal, Niger, Namibia, Burundi
Group L
Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland
Group M
Cameroon, South Africa, Gambia, Mauritania

Kaizer Chiefs defender Morgan Gould is expected to resume training in September after having successful surgery last Wednesday. The 32-year-old, who went under the knife at Rosebank Clinic, tore his left Achilles tendon during a CAF Champions League game against Morocco’s Raja Casablanca on the weekend. “We are looking at full training with the team in September,” Chiefs’ physiotherapist David Milner told the club's website. The former SuperSport United captain ruptured his right Achilles tendon two-and-a-half seasons ago.

Sipho Mngomezulu is set to join PSL strugglers Moroka Swallows for the remainder of the season. Mngomezulu, 32, was on the books of Bidvest Wits last season, yet after falling out of Gavin Hunt’s plans, trialled unsuccessfully at AmaZulu in September last year, and has not found a new club since. The Dube Birds have however thrown the wing-back a lifeline, signing him for what is believed to be a short-term contract after undergoing a medical with the club this week. With Swallows defender Luvhengo Mungomeni ruled out for the rest of the season through injury, Mngomezulu will be up for selection for a starting berth at right-back.

Senegalese goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul’s future with Platinum Stars could be in jeopardy after he failed to arrive back in the country from national team duty. Coundoul signed a short-term contract with Stars during the past transfer window period, but a hold-up in his paperwork from home affairs means he is yet to play an official game. It seems that frustration may have got to him, with coach Cavin Johnson saying he has no idea where the player is. "I haven't seen him here. He went home for national team duty and has not come back,” Johnson said.

TP Mazembe boss Moise Katumbi has admitted that signing South African players is nearly impossible for his team and others on the continent. Katumbi, whose side knocked out Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League recently, explained during an interview with BBC that the PSL’s strong financial position means that teams such as TP Mazembe cannot consider signing South African players. “If you compare South Africa and Congo, South Africa is a developed country. The South African budget is bigger than the Congolese budget,” says the man who is apparently among the richest football club owners in Africa. “So it is difficult to convince a player who is in a better condition to come to Congo. Maybe one day,” he adds. So what was Katumbi and Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe discussing while sitting together during the second leg between TP Mazembe and Sundowns? “Patrice is really a brother to me. I met Patrice while I was in exile [in Zambia] and we were discussing the future of African football. We were discussing how people can become interested to sponsor soccer in Africa,” Katumbi reveals. “As chairmen, we are having big problems in Africa. You can go bankrupt and we were saying let’s find a way for people to bring money to African football. That was our discussion. I have been chairman of TP Mazembe for 33 years … We have used some money from the transfer of some players to finance the team.” During Katumbi’s tenure as chairman, TP Mazembe have won the CAF Champions League four times, added one Confederation Cup title to their trophy cabinet and participated in the FIFA Club World Cup twice.

Mamelodi Sundowns have confirmed that their match against Kaizer Chiefs on April 29 will now be played at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville. Initially, the fixture had been scheduled for Loftus Stadium but according to our source, the reason for the change is that the Loftus pitch is not in a ‘good condition’ to host a match of that magnitude. Kick off for the match is 19:30 and the match will be live on SABC 1 and SuperSport 4.

Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after dislocating his finger against Platinum Stars last week. The 24-year-old was substituted at halftime after colliding with Ndumiso Mabena during the thrilling 3-3 draw at Orlando Stadium, with Siyabonga Mpontshane coming on for his Bucs debut. Mhlongo has been Pirates’ first-choice keeper since the passing of Senzo Meyiwa last year.

Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Doctor Khumalo says the club will take action if they feel Itumeleng Khune crossed the line following his dismissal against AmaZulu last week. Khune received two bookings, for time-wasting and dissent, in quick succession by referee Phillip Tinyani late into the game at Peter Mokaba Stadium, with the goalkeeper later venting his frustration with the officials on Twitter. Khumalo, who oversaw the Amakhosi bench in the absence of suspended head coach Stuart Baxter, told the log leaders' website: “We are at that stage of the League season when cool heads and professionalism must prevail. We are professionals. It is all in the mind. By the look of things, pressure is mounting on the players and the match officials alike.” The Glamour Boys legend added: “We will watch the recordings and, if Khune was at fault, we will take the necessary remedial steps. We have systems in place to deal with such situations. Khune is one of the senior players in the team, so he knows what is expected of him.”

The South Africa Under-23 team made a late rally but it was a question of too little too late against Sudan as they failed to qualify for the All Africa Games. Despite winning 1-0 in the second leg at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday, they could not overturn a 2-0 deficit they suffered in Khartoum two weeks ago to bow out 2-1 on aggregate. It was a disappointing end for the U-23s of whom a lot was expected. They put tremendous pressure in the dying minutes of the second half and got the opening goal of the day but time was not on their side to add the all-important second goal.
South Africa XI: Ricardo Goss, Junior Sibande, Zitha Macheke; Motjeka Modisha, Kwanda Mngonyama (c), Ayabulela Magqwaka, Bafana Dlamini, Deolin Mekoa, Thapelo Morena, Sifiso Nkosi, Sibusiso Mahlangu
Subs: Lebo Ngubeni, Menzi Masuku, Tyroane Sandows, Abednigo Masiatlhaga, Andiswa Mtsila, Siphelele Luthuli, Mbongeni Gumede

Banyana Banyana qualified for the All Africa Games following a 5-0 thrashing of Botswana at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Having led 1-0 from the first leg, the game was a mere formality for Vera Pauw’s charges, who made light work of reaching the finals in Congo in September. The goals came from Mamello Makhabane, Portia Modise, Amanda Dlamini, Noko Matlou and S’lindile Ngubane. It was Modiose’s 101st goal for her country.

Thulani Serero has made it onto World Soccer’s list of the 500 Most Important Players on the Planet. The magazine, an authority on international football since 1960, describes the list in the April edition as follows: “This is not intended to be a list of the ‘best’ 500 players in the world. It’s impossible to compare players from different leagues and continents as any list is inevitably subjective. We have endeavoured to compile a list of the world’s most talked-about players – the most newsworthy players who, by definition, are the most important.” World Soccer has also divided the list into five categories:
1)    In-form players who have been making headlines in the 2014/15 season
2)    The young talents who have earned rave reviews in the past year
3)    The internationals who are key figures for their respective national sides
4)    The headline-makers who have made news for their actions off the pitch
5)    Those genuine world-class players who regularly feature in World XIs
Serero has been classified in the second category – the rising young talents.
They write: “South Africa’s most high-profile player, but was left out of the 2015 African Nations Cup squad after playing in the qualifiers.” Serero has made 19 starts and six substitute appearances for Ajax Amsterdam this season, scoring one goal.

Ajax Cape Town have completed the signing of Vasco da Gama midfielder Ndiviwe Mdabuka on a pre-contract. Mdabuka is originally from the Ajax youth structures but had to go via Cape Town All Stars before spending two years at Vasco. He has now won a first-team contract at Ikamva. The 24-year-old will be in Ajax colours effective from June following an impressive two years with Vasco playing as a holding midfielder.

SA players abroad round-up: Andile Jali's playoff hopes took strain, Dean Furman's promotion ambitions were dashed, while Steven Pienaar made his return after a four-month absence in European action last weekend.

Jali’s KV Oostende lost a second successive playoff match as they went down 2-0 to Mouscron-Peruwelz.
Furman played for Doncaster Rovers as they were held 1-1 at home by Rochdale to end their promotion play-off hopes.
Pienaar played his first game for Everton in four months when he came off the bench for Everton midway through the first half of their 1-1 draw at Swansea City, earning praise from manager Roberto Martinez after the game.
Keet was back from injury but had to again settle for a place on the bench as Kortrijk beat leaders Club Brugge 2-0.
Khumalo suffered a first defeat at Colchester United as they lost 1-0 at Coventry City and remain in the relegation zone.
Mokotjo played for FC Twente as they returned to winning ways with a 3-1 success at struggling Go Ahead Eagles. It is just a second league win their last 10 matches in the Eredivisie.
Ngcongca’s Genk made it two from two in the UEFA Europa League playoffs in the Belgium league when they defeated Waasland-Beveren 2-0. The Bafana right-back played the full game.
Patosi’s Lokeren were held to a 1-1 draw by Westerlo, with the Bafana winger playing the entire 90 minutes.
Phiri came off late as Brondby moved up to third in the Danish league with a 1-0 away win at Sonderjyske.
Serero played the final 20 minutes for Ajax Amsterdam as they laboured to a 2-0 victory at Heracles in the Dutch league.
Nkili played for Orebro as they suffered a second successive loss in the Swedish league, this time at Falkenbergs.
Ntlhe played for Peterborough United in their 1-0 loss at Swindon Town that also likely condemns them to another season in League One.

Nunes played for his Polish side Pogon Szczecin as they claimed a 2-0 home win over high-flying Jagiellonia BiaƂystok.