Local News - Issue 257

Arrows Back In PSL

Golden Arrows sealed the National First Division title after they played to 1-1 draw with Cape Town All Stars. Meanwhile the race for the two play-off spots are still wide open as both Thanda Royal Zulu and Black Leopards secured crucial wins. Prince Nxumalo's late goal secured a point for Arrows against All Stars and sealed their return to the Absa Premiership next season. The visitors opened the scoring early in the first half, thanks to Amigo Memela. Arrows kept pushing for an equaliser throughout the game but were made to wait until the 85th minute before substitute Prince Nxumalo netted the equaliser. The draw moved Arrows to 57 points on the log, while Cape Town All Stars themselves still have an opportunity to make the play-offs.

SuperSport United coach Gordon Igesund says the club have signed three "very good players" towards their bid for League glory next season. The four-time PSL champion, however, would not reveal the identity of their recruits. "Next year we will be challenging [for the League] and right now I got three players coming in and all of them have been finalised," Igesund said. "They are very, very good players and I have a couple of youngsters. You saw today [on Saturday in a 3-1 win at AmaZulu] I put Aya [Ayabulela Magqwaka] out there and I think we will be fine next season." SuperSport have been linked with Moroka Swallows playmaker Lerato Chabangu, as well as Kaizer Chiefs defensive lynchpin Tefu Mashamaite. Both men are under contract until June. When asked about the former, Igesund replied with a smile: "No, no, no, Chabangu is not the player I'm signing right now." Igesund notably revived Chabangu's career when he steered relegation-threatened Swallows to a runners-up finish in 2011/12. The 58-year-old also recalled 'All you need is love' during his stint as Bafana Bafana boss.

Confirmation that Mich d’Avray has been sacked as caretaker coach at Chippa United means the club has now made 14 coaching changes in three seasons. The Chilli Boys first came to the fore in the 2011/12 season when they made waves in the First Division, winning promotion to the top-flight with Roger Sikhakhane in charge. However, he was discarded before the first game even started, with Manqoba Mngqithi taking over the coaching duties. But just two games in and he was on his bike, with Julius Dube taking over as caretaker coach before being shown the door a month later. Sikhakhane returned, but lasted just 15 days as Farouk Abrahams came in. Abrahams started well, but he too was booted amidst claims of player favouritism, paving the way for Wilfred Mugeyi to leave his job as Ajax Cape Town assistant and move to the Chilli Boys. However, results were not forthcoming and the Zimbabwean was fired, leaving Mark Harrison to try and stave off relegation with just two games left – and ultimately futile attempt. The Englishman accompanied the team back to the First Division but resigned not long into the campaign, allowing Ian Palmer to take over the reins. Vladislav Heric replaced him in January 2013 and proved to be the man to lead the team back to the PSL, but his reward was to not get offered a new contract. Sikhakhane took over the hotseat once again as new coach Kosta Papic awaited his work-permit, but the Serbian was soon on his way out – upset with boardroom decisions taken behind his back. Once again Sikhakhane was called upon, taking over with the team on just four points. By the turn of the year they were sitting pretty in eighth place on 22 points, but seemingly that was not enough for Chippa Mpengesi, who brought in Ernst Middendorp, fresh from his sacking as Bloemfontein Celtic coach. The German had a horror run as coach, failing to win a single match before he was suspended on 30 March, “pending the outcome of an investigation and possible hearing”. That investigation is yet to take place. Technical director D’Avray took charge in a caretaker capacity, but after four matches at the helm (won one, drew one, lost two), he has also been let go.

AmaZulu’s costly 3-1 defeat to Supersport United was made worse by a physical altercation between the club’s captain Robyn Johannes and his defensive partner Mbulelo ‘OJ’ Mabizela as they made way to the dressing room. OJ was at fault for United’s second goal, failing to clear and allowing Jeremy Brockie to get on the scoresheet. At the end of the game, with AmaZulu rooted to the bottom of the League and emotions running high, Mabizela nudged Johannes’ shoulder and the captain retaliated by throwing a water bottle, which almost hit Asive Langwe. It was an ugly scene and both players had to be restrained, with Usuthu’s goalscorer Sedat Ouro-Akoriko pulling Johannes away. The club’s marketing manager Lunga Sokhela summoned the entire squad to the dressing room and an hour-long meeting ensued. The result left Usuthu three points adrift of Moroka Swallows at the foot of the log with only two matches to go. To make matters worse, the influential Mabizela will miss AmaZulu’s next match, against University of Pretoria as he picked up his fourth booking during the defeat. Mabizela, a former national team captain, was warned earlier this year by coach Steve Barker to keep his emotions in check. “Sometimes he gets too involved in the game and also too emotional,” Barker warned. Mabizela, 34, has scored four goals in 12 matches since joining from Mpumalanga Black Aces who had terminated his contract for disciplinary reasons.

Only in-form Free State Stars can prevent Kaizer Chiefs from taking home another Q-Innovation cheque of R1.5-million. Absa Premiership champions Chiefs have won five out of five games in Q4 with two matches left, but Ea Lla Koto can still catch them as they have 12 points. Stars' form has been so good that they have gone from relegation candidates to within reach of a top-eight finish – they are currently only two points behind eighth-placed Maritzburg United. Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United both have eight points in Q4 and are out of contention.

Polokwane City have begun talks with coach Kosta Papic in a bid to keep him in the club next season. Papic's contract with City is set to expire at the end of the season and despite his team blowing hot and cold, the Serbian coach has been widely credited for turning Rise and Shine into an exciting outfit this campaign. Papic confirmed receipt of a letter from Polokwane City which revealed their intention to renew his contract. "Yes, it's true I have received a letter," Papic said. "The club has sent a letter expressing interest to renew my contract.” Yet the Serbian refused to shed light on whether or not he would be willing to stay in Polokwane next season. "Let me only say I did receive the letter from the club,” he added. City are currently ninth in the Absa Premiership standings, and take on Platinum Stars and SuperSport United in their last two fixtures of the season.

University of Pretoria coach Sammy Troughton has advised midfielder Thabo Mnyamane to stay with AmaTuks for at least one more season. Mnyamane has been linked with a move to both Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs next season, with the Sebokeng-born midfielder showcasing a number of impressive displays along with the six goals he has scored so far this season. Troughton believes Mnyamane, who is amongst a host of players vying for the PSL Player of the Season award, can still achieve more in his football career should he stay at AmaTuks for at least one more season as he hopes to retain some the club’s biggest stars. "It’s a fact that we have some good players in the team that some of the big teams are looking for and interested in,” Troughton said. "But we want to grow as a team and keep our best players. We have expressed our wish to management to change our mindset and try keep the good players. It’s not easy, they have ambition. Big teams like Chiefs, Pirates and Sundowns come and start to talk about telephone numbers.” Yet the coach feels a move to a ‘Big Three’ club often does not work out for the players. "The only thing that happens to some of these guys when they leave is that their career reaches a standstill,” Troughton continues. Aubrey Ngoma is a good example when he left us to join Pirates. He didn't play for a season. Now is coming back but is no longer the same player was at Tuks. Regarding Mnyamane, I believe he still needs more time at Tuks to develop. It will be sad to see him go to a big team and suddenly only come on off the bench.”

Kaizer Chiefs coach, Stuart Baxter has downplayed rumours linking him with a job at Moroccan giants, Raja Casablanca. Baxter is in the last year of his contract with Amakhosi and is reported to have attracted the interest of Casablanca. Earlier this season, Baxter was wanted by Safa to fill their vacant technical director position and he also drew interest from the MLS. But, while he does not go so far as to deny that Raja Casablanca have offered him a post, Baxter says he has been dedicating all his time to helping Amakhosi achieve success in the League. “Someone made the [Raja Casablanca] interest known, but since then I have dedicated my time to winning the League with Kaizer Chiefs,” Baxter says. “That’s being honest. Sometimes as a coach there is no honesty, you have to keep some things in the dark. But this is the truth,” the former Bafana Bafana coach asserts. Baxter has led Chiefs to two League championships in his three seasons at the club.

Despite playing an integral part in Kaizer Chiefs' success in winning the League this season, striker Kingston Nkhatha will not get a winner's medal. Nkhatha left Amakhosi in January to join SuperSport United, a move that unsettled Chiefs as coach Stuart Baxter battled to find the right combinations up front in his absence. The Zimbabwean striker enjoyed a great spell at Naturena and left the Phefeni Glamour Boys still unbeaten in the League before joining Matsatsantsa, where he was still the only player who hadn't lost a single match this season until recently. His former club has confirmed that there will be no medal reserved for Nkhatha when the team is officially presented with the trophy and medals in Port Elizabeth next weekend. "I can confirm that he is not getting any medal," Chiefs corparate communications manager Vina Maphosa has said.

The Sandton Convention Centre in the north of Johannesburg will host the 2014/15 Premier Soccer League Awards for a second year in a row. The awards will be on Sunday, 17 May, and the nominees will be announced on 11 May at the PSL headquarters in Parktown at 11am. There are two new categories under ‘Absa Premiership’:  - ‘Absa Premiership Defender of the Season’ and ‘Absa Premiership Midfielder of the Season’. All other categories stay the same. Last season, Bidvest Wits maestro Sibusiso Vilakazi stole the show by walking away with some of the biggest awards on the night, including the Footballer of the Year (voted by the coaches), Absa Premiership Player’s Player of the Year (voted by other players) and Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament.

Moroka Swallows midfielder Tshwarelo Bereng will be released upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season. Bereng has battled to make any impact at Swallows this season, having yet to feature in a single match for the battling Birds during the current campaign. Much was expected of the 24-year-old when he signed from United FC two years ago, but after showing glimpses of hope in his first year - starting five games and appearing as a substitute in another 14 games - he has been a disappointment this term.

Ajax Cape Town coach Roger de Sa says he has no problem with the Nedbank Cup Final venue and would be fine with it even if they "played on the moon". De Sa was asked his thoughts on playing the Final at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth after his opposing number Pitso Mosimane took issue. The Mamelodi Sundowns coach said it will be difficult for the Brazilians fans to travel to the coast, and also said the conditions will favour the Cape team. De Sa suggested Mosimane should get out a map before making such statements. "He [Mosimane] is an ex-teammate of mine and a good mate of mine and yeah I understand. Obviously he's got to pull for his team by saying his supporters can't get to PE, but has he measured the distance from Cape Town to Durban? How are my supporters gonna get to Durban?" De Sa replies. I think you've got to look at both teams all the time and for us the distance from Cape Town to PE is probably the same as Joburg to PE. It is common sense to take the game there but I think for future what should happen before this competition takes place, you've got to determine where the Final is going to be played before the Final. [If they said] this year the Nedbank Cup Final will be at Soccer City and that's it, then we will all know it is at Soccer City but when you start juggling around and waiting to see who's gonna be in the Final, we will always have people complaining and you are not going to make everybody happy. For us, let's be honest, the size of the pitch in Durban and the size of the pitch in PE and the size of the pitch in Cape Town, it's all the same. We can play on the moon against them and not a problem." The Mozambican-born coach won the Nedbank Cup with Bidvest Wits in 2010 when his side beat AmaZulu 3-0 at FNB Stadium just prior to the 2010 World Cup. The 2015 Nedbank Cup Final is on 16 May, with kick-off at 15h00.

Both Bidvest Wits and Supersport United have entered the race to sign Kaizer Chiefs defender Tefu Mashamaite. Mashamaite's contract with Amakhosi is set to expire at the end of the current season. The former Wits defender was earlier linked with a move to Mamelodi Sundowns but it has now has ermeged that both the Clever Boys and Matsatsantsa have presented offers to the player. "Both Supersport and Wits are talking to the player," revealed a source close to the player. "The Wits offer looks more enticing." The 30-year old has featured in every single match for Chiefs this season, and has remarkably only collected one yellow card in the league.

The Premier Soccer League has charged SuperSport United defender Clayton Daniels with assault, misbehaviour and unsporting behaviour for his shove on Moroka Swallows coach Craig Rosslee. Daniels was seen to have pushed Rosslee on the side of the pitch, breaking the coach's wrist-watch in the process, during their 1-1 Absa Premiership draw on 15 April 2015. The former Ajax Cape Town coach was shoved onto the ground after the on-rushing Daniels rushed to collect the ball for a throw-in, before scoring United's equaliser just seconds later. The PSL Disciplinary Committee have since reviewed the incident and have charged the Matsatsantsa captain for his unsporting-like behaviour. The 30-year-old will now appear before the committee on Thursday, 30 April, where his punishment will be decided.

Kagisho Dikgacoi looks set to leave Cardiff City after just one season. The former Bafana Bafana midfielder joined the club at the start of the season, leaving regular football with Premiership side Crystal Palace to become the Bluebirds’ big-name signing. But things have not gone according to plan for Dikgacoi – injuries have limited him to just two starts and one substitute appearance, a total of 164 minutes spent on the pitch. Walesonline have done an assessment of the squad and believes that the former Golden Arrows man will be let go at the end of the season. “Kagisho Dikgacoi’s injury woes since his arrival from Crystal Palace last summer could spell the end of a miserable season at the Bluebirds,” they write. “[Manager Russell] Slade won’t take the risk of starting with him next season unless he believes that will change.” The 30-year-old has also played for Fulham during his time in England.

The Premier Soccer League has announced the dates of the 2014/15 season Promotion Play-off fixtures. The opening fixture will be on Sunday, 17 May at 15h00. Other fixtures will be played on Wednesday, 20 May, 24 May, 27 May, 31 May and 3 June. The format of the Promotion Play-off has not changed. The Promotion Play-off is played on a round-robin basis by three clubs: the club that finishes 15th on the Absa Premiership log and the two clubs that finish second and third in the National First Division (NFD).

Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler feels his team put in one of their best displays of the season against CF Mounana in the CAF Confederation Cup on the weekend. Pirates beat Mounana 3-0 on Saturday to advance 5-2 on aggregate to the play-off round of the continental competition. Kermit Erasmus stole the show with a hat-trick at Orlando Stadium, but Tinkler also reserved praise for his defence. "I was happy with the performance of the team. There was a lot of tactical discipline, a high work-rate from both Kermit and [Thamsanqa] Gabuza. We knew their defence was their weakest point and we knew that if we apply high pressure it was going to be difficult for them. Defensively I think we were very good and probably it was our best performance in defence in a long time. I thought everybody at the back four from Thabo [Matlaba] to Siya [Sangweni] to Happy [Jele] and Ntsike [Nyauza] all had fantastic performances. Overall we can single out so many players. For the first time I can say this was a really fantastic performance from the team. It was a good result, we are moving to the next round. We are moving further in this competition which was our objective."

Ajax Cape Town winger Riyaad Norodien is destined for a bright future that will make South Africa stand up and take notice. This is the opinion of Ajax boss Ari Efstathiou regarding the latest youngster to be introduced to professional football by the club, which is renowned for its vibrant development structures. Norodien – who recently turned 20 – has already won two man-of-the-match awards in the five games that he has started since being handed his debut last month. “He [Norodien] is definitely going to be a future star of South African football and it helps that he is at a club that gives all the kids a chance to showcase their talents,” says Efstathiou.

SA players abroad round-up: Ayanda Patosi was in tears, Andile Jali's Europa League hopes vanished, while May Mahlangu and Anele Ngcongca made their respective returns in European action on the weekend.
An emotional outing for Patosi, who played through tears and was replaced after just half an hour of Belgian side Lokeren’s 4-3 loss to Westerlo in the UEFA Europa League playoffs. Patosi was devastated by the tragic death of 24-year-old teammate and friend Gregory Mertens, who collapsed during a reserve league game for Lokeren and died in hospital on Thursday. The club’s fixture still went ahead just 24 hours later but Patosi battled with his emotions.
Jali’s Oostende are out of the UEFA Europa League qualification running in Belgium after they slipped to a 1-0 home loss to Mouscron-Peruwelz.
Mahlangu made his first start for Turkish side Konyaspor since returning from injury but they slipped to a 3-1 loss at Mersin Ä°dmanyurdu. Mahlangu’s side remain safely in mid-table.
Ngcongca returned from suspension to help Genk romp to a 7-1 success over Waasland-Beveren. They must now better the rest of Mechelen in their final pool game on Saturday.
Phiri played the full game for Danish side Brondby in a 2-0 away win over OB that moved the club back to third in the table. Phiri set up the second goal with a fine pass.
Rantie was again missing for English Championship side Bournemouth as they won their final game of the season 3-0 at Charlton Athletic to finish first.
Sampson made his first start of the season for Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps as they played to a 0-0 draw at Portland Timbers.
Fowler played for Finnish second-tier side Haka as they began their 2015 league season with a 2-2 draw at JJK.

Keaghan and Kyle helped Scottish Championship side Livingston beat relegation on the final day of the league season as they defeated fourth-placed Queen of the South 1-0 to secure their safety. And it was Kyle who provided the crucial goal from the penalty spot.