Local News - Issue 294

Rest In Piece Mondli Cele 

Maritzburg United midfielder and fan favourite Mondli Cele (27) has died after the car he was travelling in veered off into the Duzi river on Park Drive, Pietermaritzburg. The Maritzburg United midfielder was involved in a car accident after the game against Orlando Pirates on Saturday night, where he scored the opening goal in a 3-3 draw. He also netted in last week’s 2-2 draw against SuperSport United. Club chairman Farouk Kadodia has confirmed the sad news, saying: "I'm at the scene at the moment and I just want to get everything sorted, but I can confirm that he has passed away.” Those at the scene say Cele lost control of the car in the heavy rain that was lashing Pietermaritzburg that night. Maritzburg United have confirmed that this weekend KwaZulu-Natal derby against Golden Arrows has been postponed in the wake of the trgic passing of midfielder Mondli Cele. The 27-year-old passed away in a car accident on Sunday morning, and with the club in mourning, a special request to postpone their fixture this weekend, as well as that of their reserve league side, has been granted. “The ABSA Premiership fixture between Maritzburg United and Lamontville Golden Arrows, as well as the Multichoice Diski fixture between Maritzburg United and Ajax Cape Town, which were both scheduled for the 23rd of January 2016, have been postponed until further notice,” read a statement released by the club, who then thanked all those who have shown their support in this difficult time. “Maritzburg United FC wishes to extend our heartfelt gratitude for the messages of support and condolences we and the Cele family have received since the tragic passing away of our beloved Mondli last Sunday morning.” Delisile Ngwenya, who was in the car with Cele, was tragically also killed in the accident, with the club conveying their condolences to her relatives and friends. “The club would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences to the Ngwenya Family and friends, for the loss of their daughter who passed away in the same accident with Mondli,” the statement read. “Delisile Ngwenya worked very closely with the club, as she was assigned to serve Maritzburg United for the SABC Sekunjalo soccer programme. She worked very diligently in serving the club through the SABC. May her soul rest in peace.”

Malawian trialist John Banda claims he has passed his assessment and is set to sign for Jomo Cosmos. The striker was invited to the club by owner Jomo Sono in early January. Banda told local publication Nyasa Times over the weekend that he expects to move to the PSL after receiving positive feedback. “I know people are eager to know, for me, I have successfully passed the trials. As I was coming from South Africa, the owner Jomo Sono told me I have passed the trials,” said Banda. The 22-year-old is known as ‘CJ’ and is a senior Malawi international. 

Bloemfontein Celtic striker Hellings ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango has signed a pre-contract agreement with Bidvest Wits. Mhango has signed a three-year deal and is expected to join the Students on July 1. Wits CEO Jose Ferreira has confirmed that the Malawi international has signed with them. “Yes, he has signed a pre-contract with us,” says Ferreira. The 22-year-old has made just five league appearances for Celtic so far this season and scored one goal. Celtic chairman Max Tshabalala says the club was shocked to hear that Hellings Mhango had signed a pre-contract with Bidvest Wits. The Malawian striker has penned a three-year deal with the Absa Premiership title contenders. "We are stunned by Mhango’s pre-contract signing with Wits after having numerous discussions with him and his agent for more than a year," says Tshabalala. "Even this past Friday, whilst preparing for the Kaizer Chiefs game, he adamantly denied rumours about his departure and made a commitment that he will extend his contract with us sign. I deem his conduct to be unprofessional."

Mamelodi Sundowns remain top of the Absa Premiership Q2 table with one game remaining, and only Mpumalanga Black Aces can still catch them. Sundowns and Aces are the only two teams who can still win the quarterly R1.5-million reward, with the final round of the second quarter scheduled for this weekend. The Brazilians have a Tshwane derby against SuperSport United at 20h15 on Saturday night while AmaZayoni travel to struggling University of Pretoria on Sunday afternoon. A Sundowns win this weekend over Matsatsantsa, who lost 4-1 to Polokwane City over the weekend, will guarantee the Q2 cheque. Pitso Mosimane’s side have won five out of six league games in the second quarter of the season and drawn one – against Kaizer Chiefs two weeks ago – to give them 16 points. Surprise package Aces have 15 points having won five and lost one during the second quarter.

The Premier Soccer League have appointed Michael Murphy as the head of their legal division. PSL chairman Irvin Khoza and acting chief executive Mato Madlala are confident Murphy will impress in the role. Khoza said: "Mr Murphy has a solid track record. He joins the PSL at a very crucial stage and during a period where the League needs the competence of someone of his pedigree. He is very familiar with our industry and we hope he will do a great job with us. It is important for the PSL to always think ahead and look at areas where we need expertise to take our business to a different level.” Madlala added: “We are pleased to welcome him as part of the PSL family. Michael Murphy has been around the industry for a while and we can now tap on his experience on a daily basis.” Murphy, who has worked in local football and with FIFA in the past, is grateful for the opportunity. “I would like to thank the PSL chairman, Dr Khoza and the executive for this opportunity. I look forward to being part of this team and making a contribution to football." 

The start of next season’s Premier Soccer League campaign could be delayed by a full month to make allowance for the Olympics in Brazil. South Africa’s men team qualified for the Rio Games by finishing third at the African Under-23 Championship in Senegal just over a month ago and will now participate at the men’s football tournament at the Olympics from August 3-21. Given that the PSL postponed both topflight and National First Division games during the African qualifiers to allow South Africa to field a full strength squad, it seems logical that they will do the same for the Games themselves. But the PSL's football manager Derek Blanckensee said several scenarios were being considered and been referred to the organisation’s executive committee to consider. PSL rules determine that their fixture and dates are set by the league’s administration which means any possible delay to the season will be determined internally. Club officials have confirmed that the issue had yet to be raised but they expected it to come up at the next Board of Governors meeting, where all the clubs are represented. No dates for the next BoG gathering have been scheduled. Traditionally the new season always gets underway on the first weekend of August. Some years it has been with MTN8 matches and other seasons with a full list of league fixtures. A delay of one month might be welcome by the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs if they manage to progress through to the group phase of the African Champions League, which will start in June. For other clubs it would mean a holiday hiatus of a possible 10 weeks which could come both as a benefit to be able to rest players or a hindrance as they seek to keep them focused.

Chippa United have confirmed the signing striker David Zulu on a six-month deal effective immediately until the end of the 2015/16 season. Zulu, who played for Chippa United in the 2014/15 season, will add firepower to the Chilli Boys’ striking force. Chairman Siviwe ‘Chippa’ Mpengesi is glad to have Zulu back at the club: “I am happy to welcome David back into the Chippa United fold, he is a talented striker with an amazing knack for goals.” Defender Sibongiseni Ngcobo has also joined the Port Elizabeth outfit on a six-month contract effective immediately. “Sibongiseni is a talented young defender who has a bright future ahead of him, our coach is excited to work with him and looks forward to nurturing the youngster’s talent,” said Mpengesi. The chairman further announced the departure of attacking midfielder William Twala, who joined Kaizer Chiefs.

Lebohang Mokoena has asked Mamelodi Sundowns to let him leave in order to get some game-time. ‘Cheeseboy’ has seen precious little action in recent times – both as a result of injury and the number of quality players at Chloorkop. University of Pretoria were keen to sign the 29-year-old on loan, but the Brazilians were only prepared to go through with the deal if AmaTuks paid his full salary. Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane today confirmed Mokoena’s request to leave. “He spoke to us and he said he wants to get game-time [elsewhere] because he is not getting enough here,” ‘Jingles’ says. “He is playing on the right and we have (Themba) Zwane playing there and we have Anthony (Laffor), and sometimes Khama (Billiat) can play on the right. “It’s not easy. The poor boy is a good guy; he trains well and is still quality … he can play at any level. He can still play in the team, but I have to respect principles and be fair in team selection.” 

Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen has revealed that the club has parted ways with Tumelo Letuka. The defender, who only joined the club from Free State Stars at the start of the season, played only one league match in the six months he spent in Durban. The 27-year-old, who played eight times for Free State Stars last season, is now being assessed by struggling University of Pretoria.  Meanwhile, Arrows have beefed up their technical team by appointing Brazilian goalkeeper coach Milton Nienov. He is familiar with the PSL, having worked in 2013/14 at Free Stars and Polokwane City. 

Kaizer Chiefs have announced the signing of winger William Twala from Chippa United. The former Orlando Pirates player has joined on a two-year deal and is pictured sealing the move alongside Chiefs football manager Bobby Motaung and Chilli Boys chairman Chippa Mpengesi. The 25-year-old has made seven starts and four substitute appearances for Chippa in the league this season and has two goals and two assists. He has two Bafana Bafana caps and counts Wits Junior FC, Pirates juniors, Yebo Yes United, FC AK, Pirates and Chippa as former teams. The Hillbrow-born player is expected to be deployed down the right wing for Steve Komphela's side.

Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler says they expect Oupa Manyisa to be back in action at the beginning of April. Manyisa has been out of action for four months now after fracturing his ankle in the goalless draw with Polokwane City in September.  Tinkler says the 27-year-old has made huge progress, but they won’t rush him into play. “Oupa is doing quite a lot of gym work now – strength work and he has been doing a lot of biometric work on the field,” Tinkler explains. “He has made a lot of progress definitely, but he has got a way to go. I think realistically end of March/April. “He is working very hard and he is at training every day and we all want to see him back on the field as soon as possible. But we need to worry about their careers first and not wanting to rush them back. “We know how important they are as squad members, but there is the future and Oupa is not different.”  

Mihlali Mayambela has finally completed his move to Swedish club Djurgardens. The young midfielder will leave his First Division club Cape Town All Stars in the next few weeks after an impressive trial stint towards the end of last year. “It’s a straight three-year option,” Mayambela’s agent, Michael Makaab Jnr confirms. “Mihlali is extremely excited and can’t wait to get his career in Europe underway. He has the ability to go very far and to really make a name for himself.”  Mayamabela follows in the footsteps of his older brother Mark, who had a stint with Djurgardens before returning to South Africa last season.

Mamelodi Sundowns captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a Grade-3 ligament tear in his left ankle. The Sundowns skipper suffered the injury during their 0-0 Absa Premiership draw with Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, when he was substituted in the 78th minute. Coach Pitso Mosimane confirmed after the game that Mphahlele was rushed to hospital with tears in his eyes. After a series of tests, the 25-year-old has now received the bad news that it is a Grade-3 tear to the medial ligament of the ankle. Fortunately no surgery is needed, but his recovery is set to continue over the next six to eight weeks and he will most likely only return to action in March. The former junior international says that the pain has improved but says the swelling is still prominent, and he is currently walking with the aid of a moon boot.  

Phumelele Bhengu's agent says Maritzburg United and Royal Eagles are among four clubs interested in the out-of-favour SuperSport United striker. Bhengu joined SuperSport in the off-season after scoring 22 goals last term for National First Division side Thanda Royal Zulu. However, he has only made four appearances in the League this season amid competition for game-time from Jeremy Brockie, Kingston Nkhatha, Bradley Grobler and Fagrie Lakay. Matsatsantsa coach Gordon Igesund recently claimed Bhengu requested a loan move away from the club, but the player's representative Lizwe Mthethwa disputes this.

Maritzburg United have parted ways with Ayanda Nkosi, Themba Mavundla and Veluyeke Zulu while the future of on-loan midfielder Siyabulela Shai remains hanging in the air. Nkosi, Mavundla and Zulu have battled for game-time this season and have been afforded the opportunity to move elsewhere following the termination of their contracts by mutual agreement. Maritzburg officials have confirmed the departure of the three players, who are now likely to move to the First Division after failing to play any games this season. “We have parted ways with those three players Nkosi, Mavundla and Zulu and they are now free to join clubs of their choices as they are now free agents,” says the Maritzburg official. With regards to Shai, the club is engaging his parent club Mamelodi Sundowns. Shai is on loan from Sundowns for the season but has fallen out of favour at Maritzburg, who are now talking to his parent club as they seek to map the way forward. The 22-year-old has started four games and scored once this term.

Larry Cohen has revived the option of heading overseas following his decision to part ways with Ajax Cape Town just five months after joining the club. Cohen left Ajax without playing in any official match, having joined the team in August weeks after leaving Moroka Swallows. Vasili Barbis, who represents Cohen, confirms that though they already have two offers on the table they are exploring other options. The overseas option is motivated by the fact that the 28-year-old holds a Lithuanian passport which allows him to play within the European Union with ease. 

South African players abroad round-up. 

Kagisho Dikgacoi came off the bench for English Championship side Cardiff City as they won 3-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday.

Andile Jali missed KV Oostende’s 3-3 home draw with Waasland-Beveren after falling ill in the week leading up to the match.

Darren Keet had a disappointing outing after the festive season break in Belgium when his Kortrijk side lost 1-0 at OH Leuven.

May Mahlangu started his year at Sint Truiden in Belgium with a 0-0 away draw at Sporting Charleroi. 

Kamohelo Mokotjo laid on one goal and gave an excellent all-round display as struggling Twente started 2016 with an excellent 4-0 victory over Heracles. They stay third-bottom in the Netherlands but have closed the gap on the teams above them.

Dino Ndlovu scored his 13th goal of the season for Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta as they thumped Ayia Napa 7-1 in the league to keep their title hopes alive this season. The Bafana Bafana forward started on the bench but was introduced in the second half and continued his remarkable scoring form this season.

Anele Ngcongca was denied his first win at French Ligue 1 side Troyes despite his side taking a 2-0 lead early on against Rennes. The Bafana defender was partly at fault too as he gave away a penalty for Rennes’ first goal and the visitors went on to romp to a 4-2 victory. Troyes are still winless in Ligue 1 after 21 matches.

Left-back Ngosi Ntlhe is finally over a toe injury that had kept him out since August and came off the bench for League One side Peterborough United in their 0-0 home draw with Southend United.

Ayanda Patosi was taken off just past the hour-mark as his Belgian side Lokeren made a poor start to 2016 with a 2-0 home loss to Standard Liege.

Thibang Phete tasted arguably the finest moment of his young career to date as he played the final half-hour for Vitoria Guimaraes in a famous 1-0 league win over giants FC Porto in Portugal.

Steven Pienaar continued his return from long-term injury with another 10 minutes off the bench as his Everton side were denied victory at Chelsea following a 3-3 draw. ‘Schillo’ has now featured in Everton’s last three matches – including the 0-0 draw at Manchester City in midweek – but was left disappointed after Chelsea scored a controversial late equaliser.

Tokelo Rantie’s injury problems mean he was again left out of the match-day squad for Bournemouth.

Thulani Serero did not make it off the bench for Ajax Amsterdam as they continued their championship charge with a 1-0 win at ADO den Haag, a match marred by racist chants from the home team’s fans.