Local News - Issue 267



SuperSport Sign A-League Star

SuperSport United have confirmed the “very exciting” signing of Australian midfielder Isaka Aongor Cernak-Okanya from Central Coast Mariners. The 26-year-old attacking midfielder has signed a three-year contract with Matsatsantsa, who already have Jeremy Brockie and Michael Boxall on their books from the Oceania region. United CEO Stan Matthews has confirmed the deal as well as the recall of midfielder Andile Fikizolo following his season-long loan to Golden Arrows. Matthews is already raving about the signing of Cernak, who he believes will set the scene alight in the PSL next season. “Cernak is a very exciting player. I think you guys will be blown away when you see him,” Matthews says. “He’s got skill, he’s got flair, he’s got attitude, pace, and I think he will bring out the best of Lebogang Manyama because it’s not going to be easy for Manyama to get into the team.” Matthews adds: “Then we have Michael Boxall, the New Zealand international, who I think is going to be one of the best defenders in the League. From everything we have seen, he has power, pace, reads the game well and a no-nonsense approach and I think he is going to be a big it.” Cernak was born in Brisbane. His father is Ugandan, and his mother is Czech.

Platinum Stars won the inaugural edition of the Maize Triangle Challenge after beating Mpumalanga Black Aces 1–0 in the final, played at the Moruleng Stadium on Saturday. Dikwena reached the final after defeating Botswana’s Township Rollers 5-4 on penalties in the first semi-final of the tournament.  Aces on the other hand beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-0 in the other semi-final, to set up a clash with the Cavin Johnson-coached Stars. The North West provincial government, who organised the event, promised that The Maize Cup would be held annually.

Dean Furman is closer to earning a deal with Blackburn Rovers after scoring in a friendly win over Accrington Stanley on Saturday. Furman is a free agent and looking to stay in Europe after deciding not to renew his contract at Doncaster Rovers. The Bafana Bafana midfielder is one of four midfielders on trial at Benni McCarthy’s former club, who now play in the English Championship. Ex-Sheffield Wednesday man Giles Coke, Northern Ireland Under-21 international Liam Nolan and Sacha Petshi, a 23-year-old Frenchman, are the other three looking to impress Rovers boss Gary Bowyer. Furman started the pre-season runout against Stanley and immediately made his mark with a fine finish in the 12th minute. He was subbed off at half-time as the manager fielded a completely different team in the second half. According to reports, Furman’s trial has been extended after he was invited to Blackburn’s training camp in Portugal.

The prankster who claims to represent PSL clubs has claimed another victim in the form of out-of-favour SuperSport United midfielder Benett Chenene. Chenene, who was recently sent to train with the Matsatsantsa reserve team ahead of a likely exit from the club, was contacted by a man claiming to be Bloemfontein Celtic chairman Max Tshabalala and invited for trials. The player called the club to speak to Tshabalala and confirm the details of his trial, but the real Tshabalala had to awkwardly inform him that no such offer was actually made.  Last year ex-Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Benedict Vilakazi fell victim to the same conman. ‘Tso’ flew all the way to Bloemfontein to sign his new ‘deal’ with Celtic, only to be given the bad news. Muhsin Ertugral, David Notoane and Sabelo Tsambo have also been targeted in the past, presumably by the same person. “I do not invite players to trials, that is the role of the technical team and management. It is disturbing that a person would come up with a scheme to create false hope and fabricate lies instead of using that energy to make a positive contribution to the game and the society,” the real Tshabalala stated on Celtic’s website. “We appeal to this dishonest person or people to stop with their scheme and to stop wasting people’s time. We trust that the law will catch up with these criminals and we apologise to those that have been inconvenienced or conned.”

Rudolf Bester and Sandile Sibande remain on the hunt for a club after failing to impress on trial at Maritzburg United. The pair started training with the Team of Choice last month with the hope of earning a contract, but have since been turned away. Bester endured an injury-hampered campaign at Free State Stars in 2014/15, while Sibande was farmed out to Moroka Swallows by Bidvest Wits last term. However, Zimbabwean striker Evans Rusike is still training with the club, which recently offloaded forwards Terrance Mandaza and Thokozani Sekotlong. Coach Mandla Ncikazi currently has Mohamed Anas and Mohau Mokate as recognised frontmen at his disposal. Meanwhile, Nickazi is still awaiting the arrival of Ghanaian centre-back John Paintsil. The 33-year-old is at home waiting for a new work permit.

National First Division side Royal Eagles have brought in John Tlale to work as the goalkeeper coach once again after he failed to agree terms with promoted Golden Arrows. Tlale had been recommended to Arrows by his former teammate Serame Letsoaka – the Arrows coach – but couldn’t reach an agreement with the club forcing him to switch over to Eagles. At Eagles Tlale will work with head coach Vladislav Heric and assistant coach Bheka Phakathi. Tlale is in his second spell with Eagles having been with the club at the beginning of last season before he was then pushed out when the club made technical changes.

Platinum Stars have turned down an offer from SuperSport United for the services of Malawian midfielder Robert Ng'ambi. United placed an enticing offer on the table to Stars with the hope of luring Ng'ambi to Tshwane next season. The Malawi international is in the last year of his contract with Dikwena. Matsatsantsa CEO Stan Mathews has confirmed his club’s bid to the North West outfit. “We have spoken to Platinum Stars a few times. Senzo Masingiza was clear that the player was not for sale. They are not going to release him,” says Matthews. “He is a player we would have loved to have from an experience point of view and what he could add maybe to our title challenge.” Matthews also confirms that his club made an offer to Bidvest Wits for Bafana Bafana defender Siyabonga Nhlapo, but it was turned down. “There are a few players we had an eye on. We lost out for Daniel Cardoso and Ng'ambi was one of them. Nhlapo is another player we really wanted. I think we made a generous offer which was declined,” he added.

The draw for the ABC Motsepe Foundation National Plays-Offs took place in Johannesburg on Tuesday, and R1-million has been promised to the winner. The event was attended by among others Safa President, Dr Danny Jordaan and Motsepe Foundation Chair, Patrice Motsepe. The tournament which will take place in the capital of Northern Cape Province, Kimberly will run from Monday, 20-26 July with the ultimate winners, apart from winning a whopping R1-million winners prize, gain promotion into the National First Division. The runners-up will also gain promotion into the National First Division and will receive R500 000 prize money. The matches will be played at Galeshewe, De Beers, with the final scheduled for RA Abass Stadium. SAFA President, Dr Jordaan lauded the massive contribution made by the ABC Motsepe Foundation in raising the standard of football in within the amateur ranks. Dr Jordaan said both Cape Town All Stars and Highlands Park who had gained promotion from last year’s national play offs had acquitted themselves well in the National First Division. In his remarks, Mr Motsepe said it was imperative for huge resources to b poured into amateur football in order to take ‘our football to the next level.’ He said rugby and cricket enjoyed historical advantages when it comes to infrastructure and football needed the same injection. Mr Motsepe added that South Africa boasted massive talent but with little financial back up, most of this promising talent would go to waste. Meanwhile, the overall finals winner will receive directly an amount of eight hundred thousand rand (R800 000), with an additional two hundred thousand rand (R200 000) to be applied for the development of a youth football project chosen for by the winner in consultation with both Safa and the Motsepe Foundation. The finals runner-up will receive an amount of four hundred thousand rand (R400 000) with an additional one hundred thousand rand (R100 000) to be applied for the development of youth football project chosen for by the runner-up in consultation with both SAFA and the Motsepe Foundation.

ABC Motsepe League National Play-Offs Groups:                                                        

A
Milford
Glendene United
Mbombela United
African All Stars
Roses United

Group B
Kurumanae Kicks / Hungry Lions
North West Shining Stars
Magesi FC
Mthatha Bucks

Mamelodi Sundowns will step up preparations for a title assault when they face Zambian giants Zesco United in a series of training matches. The Brazilians jetted off to the home of Chipolopolo after a week-long training camp in Mpumalanga. Zesco are currently topping the standings in the Zambian Super Division, leading Power Dynamos and Zanaco by five points. Sundowns are also hoping to arrange matches against Nkana FC and Zanaco. Pitso Mosimane’s men start their 2015/16 Absa Premiership campaign away to Platinum Stars.

Moroka Swallows duo Siyabonga Nomvete and Felix Obada were among the noticeable absentees as their club returned for pre-season training. The Dube Birds will campaign in the National First Division this season after being relegated from top-flight football last season via the Play-Offs. Veteran forward Nomvete, now 37, is on the wanted list of newly-promoted Jomo Cosmos, whilst Obada's contract has reportedly expired, with the Dube Birds eager to retain the Nigerian for their battle in the First Division this season. Swallows are back at training at the Italian Sports Club in Bedfordview in preparation for the 2015/16 campaign, with Zimbabwean coach Ian Gorowa overseeing the club's pre-season training.

The future of Lucky Lekgwathi at Orlando Pirates is set to be decided after the Kings Cup tournament in Swaziland over the coming weekend. Pirates are set to travel to Mbabane where they will meet Royal Leopards in the second encounter of the one-day tournament that also features Kaizer Chiefs and Mbabane Swallows. Lekgwathi, who struggled with injury last season, is set to be offered a new contract by the Buccaneers. According to source close to Pirates, the Garankuwa-born defender is still training with the club with the hope of meeting soon with Bucs chairman Irvin Khoza.  Pirates’ clash against Leopards is set for 11h00 on Saturday, with victory earning them a spot in the King’s Cup final, scheduled for 15h00 that afternoon. Tickets cost R250 and are available at Computicket.

Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler has elaborated on the club's foreign allocation after registering Felipe Ovono, Menzi Masuku and Gift Motupa for their CAF Confederation Cup squad. New signing Ovono travelled with the team to Nelspruit to take on Zamalek in the second match of Group B on Saturday, with Masuku also part of the squad that faced the Egyptians. Motupa, however, is still nursing an injury he picked while on Bafana Bafana duty as they moved to the next round of Chan qualifying after wins over Mauritius. “We have registered these three players for the group stages. Gift came back from Bafana injured, he is not in the squad at this moment, but we have included Masuku and the new goalkeeper,” Tinkler said after Pirates’ training session at Mbombela Stadium. “We are happy with them. We had five foreign spaces left, we’ve now filled three of those five. We’ve still got two spaces and one or two players might join us so we’ve reserved those spaces for them.” New striker Tendai Ndoro has not been registered for CAF yet, although the club say they are still working on it.

Bidvest Wits have signed New Zealand striker Kris Bright following a successful assessment. In the list of new arrivals, Bright joins Malawian midfielder Gerald Phiri Junior and Johannesburg-born Keaghan Jacobs, whose deals were also completed recently. Phiri Jnr is expected to take up permanent residence as his father is South African. Bright is a well-travelled Kiwi who has played in his country and in Holland, Norway, Greece, England, Hungary, Malta, Finland and India. The 28-year-old has previously been to South Africa as he was part of the New Zealand squad for the 2009 Fifa Confederations Cup. Jose Ferreira, the Wits CEO, confirms that all three deals have now been finalised, with Bright joining as a free agent after a stint with Indian I-League club Bharat FC last year. Phiri joins from Zimbabwean club CAPS United. “All three deals have now been finalised and I can confirm that all three players now belong to Bidvest Wits,” Ferreira said.

Wits confirmed their fourth signing ahead of the 2015/16 season in Keaghan Jacobs, who was until recently playing in Scotland. The 25-year-old was on trial with the club with the view to a potential deal. Jacobs was playing for Livingston in the Scottish Championship, but he has now returned home to play for the Clever Boys.  The club announced his signing on Twitter, although the length of his contract has not been revealed. Wits have also signed Elias Pelembe, Daine Klate and Nazeer Allie.

Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs will play in the King’s Cup in Swaziland this weekend despite calls to pull out due to political agendas. The Soweto giants have released a joint statement regarding the pre-season tournament, which is scheduled to go ahead this weekend. The statement reads: “The Swaziland Solidary Network (SSN) met with the Chairmen of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates Football Clubs respectively to appeal to the clubs to withdraw from their forthcoming off-season soccer tournament in Swaziland. The SSN expressed their concern that the Swaziland government would use this tournament for 'political posturing. The Club Chairmen, Mr. Kaizer Motaung and Dr. Irvin Khoza, stated that whereas the clubs operate in an environment affected by politics, they cannot use the game to pursue political agendas. However, the two teams support democracy and respect human rights. Both Chairmen explained to the SSN that the tournament was organised as an initiative of the clubs for the benefit of soccer development in the region and to use the unifying power of the beautiful game in response to the Xenophobic challenges that resurfaced in South Africa. The Club Chairmen agreed to meet with the SSN after they have sought advice and clarity from the political leadership in South Africa. Given the advanced stage in the planning of the tournament and the contractual obligations on the clubs it was agreed that the follow up meeting will happen when the two clubs return from Swaziland.”

Nigerian midfielder Onyekachi Okonkwo has a move back to Europe lined up for him following the non-renewal of his contract at Mpumalanga Black Aces. Okonkwo has temporarily travelled back home to Nigeria from where he is now awaiting the issuing of his Schengen visa that will allow him to travel to Switzerland, where he is believed to have a deal lined up with one of the clubs there. The 33-year-old has previously played for Swiss club FC Zurich, winning the Swiss Super League in 2009 before he moved to Qatar the following year. Okonkwo started 18 games in each of the two seasons he spent at Aces after joining from Orlando Pirates and was AmaZayoni's most creative player last season, notching up seven assists.

Former Bafana Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett has said that his national U-23 coaching role is a temporary arrangement. The ex-Golden Arrows coach will serve as an assistant to head coach Owen da Gama for the next two matches against neighbours Zimbabwe. “I will be assisting the coach for the next two games, so it is not permanent,” Bartlett said. The first leg will be played in Zimbabwe on July 19 with the return match scheduled for the weekend of July 31 to August 2. The winner of this round qualifies for the Eight Nations tournament, which will serve as a qualifier for the 2016 Olympic games. The Eight Nations will be played from November 28 to December 12 this year in Dakar, Senegal.

Kaizer Chiefs have unveiled their new jersey for the 2015/16 season. The statement reads: “Kaizer Chiefs will step into the 2015/16 season in an iconic new home kit that celebrates their 45th anniversary and heralds their illustrious history of winning the most league titles in South Africa. As they embark on the defence of their premiership title, the team will wear a home jersey with broad gold and black stripes.  The new design infuses the club’s legacy and spirit, reflecting almost half a century of prestige and success.  A thin black ribbon is featured around the contemporary and lightweight crew neck collar, which sets off the gold shoulders and sleeves. The team will have the option to wear the traditional Kaizer Chiefs black or gold home shorts, with gold socks completing the kit." The new kit is available for pre-sale via the Nike Football App and kaizerchiefs.com from July 17, and on sale in official retailers from July 23.

Orlando Pirates new signing Thembinkosi Lorch will be loaned out for the upcoming season, with a move to NFD side Cape Town All Stars looking likely. The 21-year-old – signed from Maluti FET College – will not be able to immediately break into the Pirates team and will thus be sent out to another team where he stands a better chance of playing regularly. All Stars – who provided Pirates with another midfielder in Luvuyo Memela – are the early frontrunners to land Lorch due to their good relationship with the Buccaneers, although there is also interest from African Warriors. Warriors, who have Morena Ramoreboli, the man who coached Lorch at Maluti, are holding out hope that they can land the stylish midfielder. Though Lorch has been keen to test himself in the PSL, it appears his loan will likely be a move to the First Division as PSL clubs are apparently not yet aware of his potential.

Long-serving Moroka Swallows midfielder Lefa Tsutsulupa is now considering his options as the club is yet to offer him a new contract. The contract of the 35-year-old midfielder ran out at the end of June and he has said that he is yet to decide whether or not to hang up his boots. “I am at home at the moment, relaxing and thinking of my next move,” Tsutsulupa said. “I do not have contract with Swallows at the moment and I am not in a position to say whether or not I will be playing for them during the upcoming season.”  While there were reports last season that the midfielder could be offered a coaching role at Swallows, the club is yet to confirm such an arrangement. Tsutsulupa – who has also previously played for Bloemfontein Celtic and Jomo Cosmos – has seven Bafana Bafana caps to his name.

Orlando Pirates have completed the signing of midfielder Roger Majafa from Polokwane City. The Africa Sport Youth Development Academy product has since penned a three-year contract with the Soweto giants. Africa Sport director Harold 'Jazzy Queen' Legodi says his former player is versatile and is an excellent passer of the ball. "He has since signed for Pirates," Legodi said. "He is one of our products. He can play both an attacking or defensive role in the midfield. He is one of the best passers of the ball," he added. Majafa played at Legodi's academy before being snapped up by Mpumalanga Black Aces ahead of the 2011/12 season. Majafa moved on to Platinum Stars, Roses United and then City, who he made 13 League starts for in 2014/15.

SuperSport United goalkeeper George Chigova has confirmed he is leaving the Telkom Knockout holders, with Polokwane City his likely destination. The clubs have been discussing a prospective move for the Zimbabwean, who failed to feature in the Absa Premiership last season. "Yes, I am leaving SuperSport. I understand both teams are still negotiating," said Chigova. "I don't mind where I would be playing as long as I can get game-time I will be happy." Chigova has provided cover to Ronwen Williams in Tshwane since arriving from Harare-based Dynamos in February 2014. City recently parted ways with first-choice keeper Modiri Marumo.

Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler has explained Lennox Bacela's exit from the club. Bacela's future in Mayfair was in doubt heading into the new season after he fell behind Kermit Erasmus and Lehlohonolo Majoro in the pecking order last term. With the emergence of Thamsanqa Gabuza and the arrival of Tendai Ndoro from Mpumalanga Black Aces, it seems Bacela became disillusioned with life at Pirates. However, the striker was given a lifeline when he started in the absence of Gabuza in the 1-0 away win to AC Leopards of Congo in June, only to be released by the club along with Khethowakhe Masuku last week. "Bacela needs to be playing week in and week out, that's what he wants and there's no guarantees that you'll get that at Orlando Pirates," Tinkler said after the Caf Confederation Cup Group B defeat to Zamalek in Nelspruit over the weekend.

Ajax Cape Town will do their due diligence before hosting Sporting Clube de Portugal in the inaugural Cape Town Cup on July 24. The pre-season tournament will ignite when SuperSport United and Crystal Palace start proceedings at Cape Town Stadium at 17h45. The Urban Warriors will then face their Lisbon-based opponents (kick-off: 20h15), with the final taking place at the same venue on Sunday. “We’ll look at their last three or four games to see their style of play," Ajax video analyst Paul Lamb told the club's website. “It will be difficult to judge because they’ve lost a few players and have a new coach [ex-Benfica boss Jorge Jesus]. We can’t take too much from their style of play, because of the fact that their new coach will implement his own style of play on the team. We will also look at a few of Benfica’s games from last season, to see the coach’s style of play. We also need to look at some of their key players and also their new signing Brian Ruiz, who is a top player.”

New Kaizer Chiefs signing Sula Matovu is an explosive player with "good technical ability", according to coach Steve Komphela. Chiefs on Wednesday announced the Ugandan winger has penned a three-year contract at Naturena after impressing on a trial. “He’s an explosive player. He’s very quick off the mark,” Komphela said of the 22-year-old on the club's website. “Besides his speed, Sula has good technical ability. Let’s see how he blends with the other top dogs here at Kaizer Chiefs.” Matovu was previously on the books of Swedish side BK Hacken, while he has also played for Iraq's Erbil and Ethiopian outfit St. George FC.

Three Kaizer Chiefs players have been fined by the club for posing for a picture with DJ Sbu and his energy drink, Mofaya. A picture of Morgan Gould, Siboniso Gaxa and Tsepo Masilela wearing shorts with club colours, as well as Mofaya t-shirts, circulated on social media earlier this year. The energy drink, which has attracted headlines as it is not South African Bureau of Standards approved, is owned by well-known DJ and businessman Sibusiso Leope. The image did not go down well with Amakhosi's management, and all three players have since been disciplined.

Moroka Swallows boss Leon Prins says Ian Gorowa will oversee the club's pre-season programme but he has not been appointed coach of the Soweto-based outfit. Swallows were left without a tactician after Craig Rosslee opted against following the team into the National First Division. Gorowa, who quit the Zimbabwe job in August last year, has since staked a claim to the hotseat. "He's here at the moment and he is conducting the pre-season and we will see what happens," Prins said. "We have a long-term relationship with him and we will see what happens. The only thing I can tell you is that we have not appointed him but he is a good coach." Gorowa coached the Dube Birds in the 2007/08 season, while he has also had stints with Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town.

Underpaid, unsettled striker Roggert Nyundu has engaged the South African Football Players’ Union (SAFPU) as he seeks to resolve his contractual dispute with Polokwane City. Nyundu – who was earning a depressing R5 000 a month at Polokwane – insists his contract with the Limpopo club expired on June 30 while the club remains adamant that he still has another year remaining. The forceful forward scored an impressive 19 goals while on loan at Black Leopards during the second half of the past season, igniting massive interest in his services which has fuelled the disagreement and threatened to put his career on hold. SAFPU are now due to get a copy of his contract from the PSL before next Tuesday as they seek to settle the matter. This website has in the meantime gathered that the 27-year-old is due to start training with another club this week after choosing not to return to Polokwane for pre-season. “According to what I know, my contract expired on June 30 and I fail to understand why they now claim I have another season. I have no contract with Polokwane,” a fuming Nyundu said. “How can they say I have a contract with them when I don’t even know how much I will be earning? How is that possible? I don’t understand how a club that wanted to dump me in their feeder team – which plays in the ABC Motsepe League at the beginning of the year – now shifts goalposts. Before I eventually found my way to Black Leopards they actually wanted to send me to a ABC Motsepe League team, which proves that they just didn’t want me anymore. Right now they are claiming I have a contract yet I know for a fact that they will not meet whatever I will ask for, even if it does happen that I go back there. I have suffered enough and all I want is just to be able to go and fend for my family elsewhere. I cannot allow myself to continue in an oppressive environment when football is such a short career. I no longer have a contract with them and I need to make hay while the sun shines. This is like cheating on your wife and abusing her and then expecting her to run back to you with things continuing in a normal way. It can’t,” he complains. Nyundu said while his priority is in playing in the PSL, his heart is not with the Citizens. “I want to play in the PSL next season for a team that I will make happy and which will also make me happy. I want to do what I did in the First Division for a PSL team. I can still possibly be with a First Division club, as long as I am happy,” he said. He also sheds light on his failed trials with Norwegian club FK Haugesund, which he attended last month with Sameehg Doutie, who has since joined Indian Super League club Atletico Kolkata. “After a week of training with them and during which I was scoring goals every day they told us that we are good players but they cannot sign us,” Nyundu revealed. “Nothing was mentioned about why they cannot sign us and my heart is hurting because of that, they should have at least told us why.”

Mamelodi Sundowns have announced a few changes to their technical team ahead of the 2015/16 season. The club’s website reports that goalkeeper coach Jon Pascua Ibarrola has returned home to Spain after five years at Chloorkop. Brazilian physical trainer Helvecio Pessoa, who joined the club during the 2013/14 season, has also left the club. Reserve team coach Dan Malesela left the Brazilians last week to join Cape Town All Stars as their head coach.

Thanda Royal Zulu have extended the contract of Thokozani Mshengu for another year and announced 12 new signings for next season. Mshengu was handed a short-term deal at Amabhubesi in March and the club has now confirmed that he will continue into next season in their quest for promotion back to the top tier. The club has made wholesale changes ahead of the new season and re-appointed former coach Thami Ngubani as they aim to do one better than last season and reach the promotion play-offs or win it automatically. Thanda have signed Steven Ncanana from Milford FC in the ABC Motsepe League, Mzwandile Banda from Maluti FET College and former Golden Arrows midfielder Mandla Mdunge. The club also lists the following new signings on their website: Thabani Dube, Khayelihle Langa, Senzo Xulu, Xolani Mpontshane, Samuel Lekalakala, Ayanda Ndlovu, Sipho Bhengu, Mcebisi Holidey and Nqubeko Ngema. Amabhubesi are also assessing former AmaZulu and Polokwane City right-back Luyanda Hlongwa as they look to shore up their defence for next season. However, last season’s NFD top scorer Phumelele ‘Ace’ Bhengu has left for SuperSport United while Jabulani Ncubeni and Mazwi Mncube have joined NFD rivals Royal Eagles.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have revealed AmaZulu's bid to buy their topflight status has failed. The purchase was pending approval from the PSL, which has not been forthcoming, according to AmaZayoni. Usuthu were seeking a way back into the Absa Premiership after being relegated to the National First Division along with Moroka Swallows. Aces bosses Mario and George Morfou said in a joint statement: "When we were approached by Amazulu F.C to purchase the Aces PSL status, we were always aware that this agreement was subject to the approval of the PSL Executive Committee. We have been informed that this agreement was not forthcoming and we respect it wholeheartedly. At no stage did Aces stop preparing for the upcoming PSL season, in fact, Aces was the first team to start Pre-Season and is still continuing. "We would like to clarify that at no point was the club and brand ‘Black Aces’ going to disappear. On the contrary, this deal was going to assist in repositioning the brand to a better quality football club. We were touched by the response and reaction of our supporters, and would like to publicly apologise to all our supporters for any inconvenience caused as well as the emotional turmoil they may have encountered during this period. We would like to confirm that we have devoted all our energy and resources toward this club, and will continue to do so. Over the past 11 years, we have had our supporters and fans next to us and assisting us in building this brand, of which we are proud to say is the largest supported brand in Mpumalanga and one of the largest supported brands within the football fraternity in South Africa. This will continue and we hope that the same supporters and fans will hold our hand toward a prosperous future for the club that is Mpumalanga Black Aces FC."

Veteran goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe has joined the growing list of departures in the aftermath of AmaZulu’s relegation after he was handed his clearance. Mathibe spent two years with Usuthu but was largely used as a back-up goalkeeper, playing 17 games in those two seasons. Last season he kept goal when Wilfred Mugeyi took over as caretaker coach in October, playing four games in a row under the former Zimbabwe international striker’s reign, but was soon back on the bench and only featured in a further three games after Steve Barker took over. The soon-to-be-35 keeper is now on the hunt for a new club as he seeks to continue his playing career, which he has mostly spent as a reliable back-up goalie. Mathibe has started 83 games since making his PSL debut back in the 2002/03 season at Kaizer Chiefs. Some of the players who did duty for Usuthu last season that will not be with the club this term are Nkosinathi Mthiyane, Bongani Ndulula, Carlington Nyadombo, Roscoe Pietersen, Bonginkosi Ntuli, Philani Shange, Paul Were and Kulegani Madondo.

Burkina Faso striker Aristide Bance is in South Africa and could sign with a PSL team for next season. Bance was spotted in Cape Town this week and speculation is rife that he could be joining either Chippa United or Ajax Cape Town. United boss Chippa Mpengesi announced this week that he intends to sign a top striker for the Chilli Boys, who are currently in the Mother City for pre-season training. Bance is a free agent after playing for Irtysh Pavlodar in Kazakhstan last term. The 30-year-old was once linked with a move to Soweto giants Orlando Pirates but opted to join Fortuna Dusseldorf in late 2013.

Cypriot side Αnorthosis Famagusta have confirmed that they are signing South African striker Dino Ndlovu. The club revealed on their website that the 25-year-old has agreed a deal in principle, but the move is subject to a medical. Ndlovu spent the second half of last season at Mpumalanga Black Aces for whom he scored two goals in six starts. The former Bloemfontein Celtic, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United marksman previously played abroad for two Israeli sides, Bnei Yehuda and Maccabi Haifa.

Former Bafana Bafana hopeful Burton O’Brien has switched clubs in the Scottish Championship after making the move to Alloa Athletic from Livingston. Midfielder O’Brien, who was born in Johannesburg, was once the source of much debate in Bafana circles, his situation similar to that of Dean Furman. A Scottish Under-21 international, he actually applied to switch nationalities to South Africa in 2005 in order to play for Bafana but that was rejected by Fifa, who had different rules in place at the time with regards to changing national teams. Now 34, those days are long gone for the former Blackburn Rovers and Sheffield Wednesday star, who is now winding down his career in the Scottish second tier. He is the third South African-born player to leave Livingston in this transfer window after the Jacobs brothers – Kyle having signed for Queen of the South and Keaghan on trial at Bidvest Wits.

Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson has handed the number 11 jersey to Mahlatse Makudubela, who will be expected to fill the void that has been left by midfielder Mogakolodi Ngele’s departure to Mamelodi Sundowns. For the past three seasons, the number 11 jersey was being worn by Ngele, who together with the likes of Robert Ng’ambi became the heartbeat of the Dikwena midfield. The 25-year-old Makudubela – who has largely been in Ngele’s shadow for the past two years – says he is eager to showcase his talent and is ready to take over the responsibility of unlocking the opposition’s defence during the 2015/16 season. “Ngele is talented and honestly speaking, I am honoured. Wearing the same jersey as he used to wear is such a huge encouragement for me to work hard,” Makudubela said. “I started with that number when I was young and I knew one day I would wear it at a professional level. It has forever been my wish to play in a number 11 jersey at professional level,” he added. The midfielder believes the return of coach Johnson to the side will make Dikwena one of the teams to beat during the upcoming season. “With the philosophy that coach Cavin Johnson brought to the club ever since he returned, I feel success awaits the team. He has a father figure role and he wants us to succeed. Football will have a different definition this season and everyone is working hard,” he said.

Chippa United have performed a double U-turn and changed their mind again about Lerato Manzini, now confirming they have finally signed the striker on a free transfer. It then emerged that Manzini went ‘AWOL’ and could not be reached, with Chilli Boys chairman Sivive ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi saying that he had pulled his offer after the player failed to attend last Tuesday’s press conference in Cape Town. However, Mpengesi has had a change of heart after finally getting hold of Manzini and thrashing things out. "Yes, we have resolved the matter and the boy was just busy,” Mpengesi said. “I was phoned by his father that the boy was not AWOL so we are definitely taking him. The contract has been finalised and it is a three-year deal. He's joining the club on Saturday in Durban.” The player's agent, Lizwe Mthethwa of Aftersec Sport Group, explains that it was all just a breakdown in communication. “It was a misunderstanding and the player never went AWOL, he went on holiday with his family in Mauritius. He was out of the country so he was not around. Everything has been sorted out now,” Mthethwa said.

Mamelodi Sundowns have decided against handing long-serving midfielder Esrom Nyandoro a new deal following the expiry of his contract. Word from Chloorkop is that the club’s management, in consultation with head coach Pitso Mosimane, have chosen not to offer Nyandoro a new playing contract. Nyandoro is held in high esteem at Sundowns, especially by club boss Patrice Motsepe, for having given the club 11 years of service – during which he captained The Brazilians and scored some memorable long range goals. There is still, however, the possibility that the 35-year-old may continue at the club in a non-playing capacity. While such considerations about Nyandoro’s post-playing career at Sundowns are still being discussed, the veteran midfielder has not reached any conclusive decision to hang up his boots just yet. The former Zimbabwean international’s clean lifestyle is what has pushed his admirers at two other clubs in the country into asking about his availability to play. Nyandoro is a traditional holding midfielder who can also do an effective job as a central defender and such is his on-field discipline too that he has never been sent off since arriving in South Africa in June 2004. The 35-year-old remains the longest serving foreign player at Sundowns in the club’s history.

SuperSport United midfielder Thuso Phala walked away with the Player of the Season award at the club's awards evening on Thursday. Phala walked away with the top honour on the evening after a stellar season in the blue and white of Matsatsantsa a Pitori. The former Platinum Stars winger also was crowned United's best player for his contribution of eight goals and 13 assists in all competitions. The 29-year old was also recently rewarded for his efforts with a four-year contract extension, which will keep him at the Tshwane-based club until at least 2019. Other awards on the night included David Mathebula as Player's Player of the Season, as well as Jeremy Brockie and Dove Wome sharing the Top Goalscorer award for their 10 goals each.

Full list of winners:
Player of the Season: Thuso Phala
Player's Player of the Season: David Mathebula
Top Goalscorer(s): Dove Wome and Jeremy Brockie (both 10 goals)
Moment of the Season: Ronwen Williams (double save in TKO Final)
MDC Player of the Year: Zakhele Mgobhozi
Chairman's Award: Kwanele Kopo
Coach's Award: Joe Boshielo and Patrick Molepo (Both kit managers)
CEO's Award: Webster Lichaba

Bidvest Wits have confirmed the signing of Elias Pelembe. Pelembe has joined the Students following the expiry of his contract at Mamelodi Sundowns last month. Pelembe has reunited with coach Gavin Hunt, who previously recruited the Mozambique playmaker for SuperSport United in 2007. Pelembe later switched alliances to Tshwane rivals Sundowns in July 2009, and largely impressed for the Brazilians. However, the 31-year-old slipped out of favour last season, being restricted to 10 League starts.

SuperSport United CEO Stan Matthews has explained why the club has sent Bennett Chenene and Thabiso Nkoana to train with their development team. Both players are not in coach Gordon Igesund's plans for next season and are set to be on their way out from the club, having been instructed to train with the reserve team. Matthews says the club are looking to transfer Nkoana, who spent last season on loan at Ajax Cape Town, with the player himself revealing his desire to leave Matsatsantsa.  "There has been quite a lot of interest from clubs for Thabiso and he has expressed his desire to move from the club and we will grant him that," Matthews said. "He has been a fantastic player for us from our youth academy. He made us proud at Ajax Cape Town by doing well for them and we are not going to stand on his way for him for getting a permanent move from another club. Obviously we have to agree terms: we got three teams currently fighting for his signature. But I can safely say for sure that Thabiso will be released during this transfer window." Matthews reveals that Chenene’s situation is more complex, as he has refused to join teams outside of Gauteng, having rejected a move to Polokwane City before demanding a meeting with the SuperSport CEO. "We had enquiries for Chenene as well but his situation is more complex,” he said. "He is not eager to go and play at other clubs as Thabiso. He’s got outside businesses and he doesn't want to move outside Gauteng. So if we can find him a team around Gauteng, we are going to go for that and now he has to train like everybody else. He is contracted to the club, but obviously we are disappointed with some of his actions in the media. But we understand his frustrations: he is a senior player and well-decorated, and he is currently not training with the first team. He is out of shape he needs to get in to shape but I'm confident that they will get a club."

Orlando Pirates have parted ways with midfielder Khethowakhe Masuku, who now becomes a free agent. The 29-year-old is seeking more consistent playing time. During his three seasons with Bucs, Masuku started 34 matches, came off the bench 17 times and scored four goals.

Mpumalanga Black Aces defender Roger da Costa has left for Cyprus this evening for a trial at Aris Limassol. The former Moroka Swallows defender's trial has been confirmed by his agent Micky Paiva from Luso Africa Player Management. Da Costa could become the second South African plying his trade on the Mediterranean island, after Dino Ndlovu joined Αnorthosis Famagusta FC, should Limassol be keen to sign him from Aces.

Utility player Benson Mhlongo has confirmed he asked to leave Polokwane City due to a lack of game-time. The former Orlando Pirates captain had a year left on his contract with City, but parted ways with the club at the end of 2014/15. "Yes, I did have one year left on my contract. I wanted my clearance after I asked for one," Mhlongo said. "I was not playing football. I asked for the clearance a long time ago, by December, because I was not featuring in the team, so I opted to go out." The 34-year-old is currently training with Free State Stars as he plots his next move. “I'm trying to be fit first from the holidays and then I will make a decision after I'm fit." Mhlongo, who has ruled out retirement, made 10 starts and two substitute outings in the league in 2014/15.