Local News - Issue 286

Clinton Larsen And Bloemfontein Celtic Part Ways 

Bloemfontein Celtic are on the lookout for a new coach following the resignation of Clinton Larsen. The 44-year-old leaves following the 2-0 defeat against Mpumalanga Black Aces yesterday, but with the team still as high as sixth in the Absa Premiership standings. Celtic have announced that Duncan Lechesa and Lehlohonolo Seema will take over in the interim. CEO Khumbulani Konco says a "misunderstanding" is the main reason why Clinton Larsen resigned as the team's coach. Social media was abuzz this morning with talk that Larsen had stepped down, with the club later confirming the news. “It was a misunderstanding between us and the coach,” says Konco. “We did not agree with the coach with certain aspects about how the team should be and this led to the misunderstanding which prompted him to resign. But he was not fired, he has resigned.”

Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse has indicated his desire to move overseas as his contract with Amakhosi closes in on the last six months. The 23-year-old, largely a back-up during his time at the club, will be out of contract at the end of June, and while Itumeleng Khune is on the sidelines yet again due to injury, his future remains a keen topic of interest. Retired goalkeeper Eduan Naude of Forte Management, the company representing Pieterse, confirms that they still haven’t had any communication regarding contract talks since July – just prior to Khune’s return to the club.

Pitso Mosimane has given his team a week off to rest and recuperate ahead of the Telkom Knockout Cup Final. The Brazilians face Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 16 December, and will go into the game in great form after the 3-1 win against Free State Stars on last Saturday evening.  They have won nine of their last 10 games to sit three points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits, and Mosimane feels that has warranted a rest. 

The Telkom Knockout Final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs will be staged at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban next month, the PSL have announced. The match will take place on December 16, with tickets going on sale tomorrow. Sundowns will have home advantage, meaning they have first choice on team colours, as well as the dressing rooms and training times at the venue. Downs beat cup holders SuperSport United 3-1 in the semi-finals, while Chiefs edged Orlando Pirates 6-5 on penalties in the last-four earlier this month. 

The PSL has made the NFD Qualification Draw to reduce the number of NFD teams from 16 to eight for the 2015/16 Nedbank Cup. There will be 16 Premiership teams, eight NFD teams and eight lower league teams in the 32-team tournament. The fixtures will be played on 15 and 16 December at 15h30. 

NFD Nedbank Cup Qualification Draw:

Vasco da Gama vs Mbombela United 
Highlands Park vs Milano United
AmaZulu vs Thanda Royal Zulu
Baroka FC vs Royal Eagles
Witbank Spurs vs Santos
Moroka Swallows vs FC Cape Town
African Warriors vs Black Leopards
Mthatha Bucks vs Cape Town All Stars

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Pitso Mosimane has given his team a week off to rest and recuperate ahead of the Telkom Knockout Cup Final. The Brazilians face Kaizer Chiefs at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on 16 December, and will go into the game in great form after the 3-1 win against Free State Stars on last Saturday evening.  They have won nine of their last 10 games to sit three points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits, and Mosimane feels that has warranted a rest. 

Ajax Cape Town assistant coach Ian Taylor says his decision to part ways with the Urban Warriors was because he was getting in a “comfort zone” at Ikamva. Taylor confirmed the news of his departure and cited his desire to obtain his UEFA A Licence in May next year as one of the reasons why he decided to move on to greener pastures.“Firstly, I would to thank Ajax for all they have done for me,” said Taylor. “I am very grateful for the time I’ve spent with them. It’s because of them I am who I am today. “But I felt I was in a comfort zone, you know and I needed to move on to the next step. “I’m not saying though that the next step would be better but I’m sure it could lead to better things in the future. “I need to plan ahead. My ultimate goal is to coach in Europe hence I need to obtain my Uefa A licence.”It has been reported that Taylor could be on his way to FC Cape Town to replace the struggling Craig Roslee and to link up with his former Ajax boss John Comitis. However this remains to be seen as Taylor is still weighing up his coaching options. “Well, there are definitely a few offers on the table and I’ll have to decide what’s best for me,” Taylor added. “And like I said my priority is to make sure I obtain my UEFA A licence qualifications.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has confirmed that midfielder Bongani Zungu is leaving the Brazilians at the end of the season to pursue his career abroad. Zungu's contract at Chloorkop will expire in June, with the Bafana Bafana star strongly linked with a move to Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes. “The sad part in six months' time, we will be losing him,” says Mosimane “It's sad we are losing a very good player. He is young and wants to pursue his football career in Europe.” Mosimane, however, feels the 23-year-old should spend one more season in South Africa. “He can go. In my opinion he should go but I think he needs one more year. One more he will be top. “The agent says he must leave. I played football in Europe, I can't say the boy must not go and play football in Europe; that will be bad. "But I think he needs one more year.”

The PSL's DRC has found AmaZulu and Moroka Swallows guilty of bringing the League into disrepute for launching a court bid to stop the promotion/relegation playoffs last season. The clubs, which were relegated from the topflight in 2014/15, sought to halt the playoffs amid claims of match-fixing. However, the South Gauteng High Court denied the application in May. The PSL has now released a statement, which said: 'AmaZulu and Moroka Swallows: Both clubs were found guilty of bringing the League into disrepute by launching a court interdict to stop the promotion/relegation playoffs at the end of the 2014/5 season without exhausting their internal remedies. 'Judgement has been reserved in respect of sentencing pending the submission of written heads of argument.' Meanwhile, Swallows have been fined R50 000, suspended for 12 months, for 'failure to provide security services at their NFD match against Santos FC on 28 October 2015 resulting in the abandonment of the match. 'The club was found guilty as charged and sentenced to a fine of R50 000.00, suspended for 12 months. The match was also awarded to Santos FC with a 3:0 goal difference.'

English striker James Keene impressed on his trial with Bidvest Wits, with the club set to "make a statement in due course". Keene spent the past week trying to win the favour of head coach Gavin Hunt at Sturrock Park. The 29-year-old has since returned home. However, there are indications he could return. "He has since gone back home. We will make the statement in due course," says Wits CEO Jose Ferreira. "Yes, he did well." Keene had an assessment with Kaizer Chiefs in March last season but a move failed to materialise.

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Thulasizwe Mbuyane took time to donate shoes to kids from Nancy Shiba Primary School in Witbank. Mbuyane last year announced his retirement from football, after a fruitful career at Pirates where he won the infamous double treble.'Juju' also played for Mpumalanga Black Aces and Royal Eagles in the National First Division before hanged up his soccer boots exactly a year ago. Mbuyane says, besides football, it has always been his passion to give back to less fortunate communities. Despite having retired from football in order to concentrate on his business, Mbuyane reveals that he still follows the beautiful game.  

Former Ajax Cape Town and Maritzburg United midfielder Nhlanhla Vilakazi has found a new home at Free State Stars after a week-long trial. The 28-year-old parted ways with Maritzburg in August and has been in search of a new team since then, but he is now part of Ea Lla Koto after impressing the technical team in friendly games played by the club recently. According to Stars, Vilakazi featured in the two friendly matches against Royal Eagles on Saturday. The midfielder did his chances no harm by scoring in the 3-0 victory over the National First Division outfit.

Bafana Bafana face the risk of falling into the last pot if their position on the FIFA rankings doesn’t improve by the time the draw for the group stages of qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup is conducted. In that situation, Shakes Mashaba’s men will then be thrown into a more difficult group definite to feature – at worst – either three North or West African countries.  With FIFA using their own rankings to seed teams for the draw towards the end of this year, Bafana will need to move up from the lowest pot of countries that they currently occupy. The 20 teams are seeded according to their rankings at the time of the draw, with the top five ranked countries at the time avoiding being thrown into the same group as they will all be seeded. The second batch of countries according to the rankings will fall into the second pot – which also has another five teams – with the same criteria used for the third and fourth pots. At the moment Bafana (75) are amongst the five lowest ranked nations to reach the third round of qualifiers, and in that pot they have Gabon (73), Morocco (79), Burkina Faso (93) and Libya (113).  The 20 teams that have reached this stage will be drawn into five groups of four teams, with the five pool winners proceeding to Russia. All teams in each group will play each other twice (home and away in a round robin format). Based on the latest FIFA rankings, Pot 1 has Ivory Coast (22), Algeria (26), Ghana (30), Cape Verde Islands (32) and Senegal (39), all of whom will be potential opponents for Bafana. Only Cape Verde has never been to the World Cup finals, but such has been their meteoric rise in recent years that they are now the fourth best football playing country on the continent with a squad mostly made of players plying their trade in Europe. The second pot has Tunisia (41), Cameroon (51), Congo Brazzaville (52), Guinea (53) and DR Congo (55). Congo and Guinea are the two countries to have never been to the finals of football’s biggest tournament. Pot 3 has Egypt (57), Nigeria (59), Mali (63), Uganda (68) and Zambia (71), with the first two being the only ones to have ever been to the World Cup. So, based on the latest rankings, the best group scenario for Bafana would be Cape Verde (Pot 1), DR Congo/Congo Brazzaville (Pot 2) and Uganda (Pot 3), yet the worst would have Ivory Coast/Algeria, Tunisia/Cameroon and Egypt/Nigeria.

Newly-appointed Thanda Royal Zulu coach Major David Bright will only be able to sit on the club’s bench next month as he waits to receive his work permit. Bright takes over from caretaker coach Asanda Mvalo who has been holding fort since the club suspended Thami Ngubane in September before parting ways with him the following month, with Mvalo reverting to assistant coach. Bright left Black Leopards last month after speaking out about management interference in technical matters. Though he has already started at Thanda, the veteran coach will only be able to take charge on match day once his work permit has been issued, and will thus miss this weekend’s clash against FC Cape Town. Bright has previously coached Leopards, FC Cape Town, Royal Eagles, Santos and Bay United, and will look to guide Amabhubesi up the standings from their current 9th spot in the NFD table. 

South African players abroad round-up.

Daylon Claasen played his part as the revival of 1860 Munich in the German Bundesliga II continued with a 2-0 win over promotion-chasing St Pauli. He featured in the first 82 minutes.

Kagisho Dikgacoi came off in the second half as Cardiff City were beaten 2-0 at Derby County to drop to ninth in the English Championship.

There was disappointment for Andile Jali as his KV Oostende side lost 2-1 at Mechelen despite a penalty goal scored by former Kaizer Chiefs striker Knowledge Musona. Jali was taken off with five minutes remaining.

Darren Keet helped Kortrijk to a 1-1 draw away at Standard Liege, a satisfactory result even if his side did give up a lead.

May Mahlangu had to watch from the stands as his new Belgian side Sint-Truiden lost 2-1 at Waasland-Beveren.

It was a horror weekend for Kamohelo Mokotjo as he played in Twente’s 5-0 loss to former side Feyenoord. Ouch.

Dino Ndlovu netted his eighth goal in 10 starts after coming off the bench to slot home a penalty in a 2-0 win for Anorthosis Famagusta over league leaders APOEL.

Anele Ngcongca sat out French Ligue 1 side Troyes’ 1-1 home draw with Lille through injury, a rare point this season that sees the team remain bottom of the league. 

Ayanda Patosi saw his game for Lokeren against Anderlecht called off by authorities due to the terror alert in Belgium being at its highest level, with police saying they could not guarantee the safety of fans.

Tokelo Rantie did not feature in the match day squad for English Premier League Bournemouth as they let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Swansea City.

Thulani Serero started for Ajax Amsterdam in their 5-1 thumping of Cambuur but was replaced seven minutes into the second half. His side had already netted four times by then.