Local News - Issue 296

Zungu Out For Around Three Months 

Mamelodi Sundowns doctors expect injured midfielder Bongani Zungu to spend up to three months on the sidelines with a fractured shin. Zungu revealed that his leg is broken but not as badly as he first feared, and he thought he might return to action in four to six weeks. But Sundowns’ website now reports that he is estimated to be out for up to three months, which puts his return around the end of April or early May, which is not ideal ahead of his overseas move at the end of the season. ‘The Portugal-bound midfielder suffered a hairline fracture of the shin and the team doctors have estimated a period of up to 12 weeks [out],’ reads a club statement. Anthony Laffor is still sidelined with a shoulder injury and Mogakolodi Ngele has a hamstring problem but could be in contention for the weekend after resuming training.

Orlando Pirates have been drawn against Kaizer Chiefs in the first round of the 2016 Nedbank Cup. The Soweto giants’ game, who clash in the League this weekend, is one of three all top-flight clashes in the last 32 – the others being Bidvest Wits vs Bloemfontein Celtic and Ajax Cape Town vs Free State Stars. Other big clashes sees Mamelodi Sundowns away to Highlands Park, while SuperSport United take on the fallen giants of South African football, Moroka Swallows.

SuperSport United have confirmed the signing of Cole Alexander from Polokwane City for next season. The midfielder has penned a pre-contract with Matsatsantsa, and will switch alliances on July 1. United said on Twitter: "SuperSport United have acquired the services of Polokwane City midfielder Cole Alexander on a pre-contract."Alexander will team up with the United squad as from 1 July 2016." Alexander's existing deal with Rise and Shine will expire in June.

PSL strugglers Jomo Cosmos have suspended midfielder Thabang Monare after an alleged bust-up with club captain Frederick Nsabiyumva. According to a source close to Cosmos, Monare has been handed a one-month suspension which could see him miss up to five matches scheduled for his side in Febraury. "There was a bust up between Monare and the captain. The boss didn't like it,” said the source. Monare confirmed his suspension, but refused to shed more light behind the reasons for his suspension by Ezenkosi boss Jomo Sono. "That someone has told you about my suspension at the club, I can’t say no,” said Monare. "Yes it’s true, I have been suspended by the club but I won’t say much more,” he added. Cosmos, who lost to Polokane City 2-1 on Saturday, currently occupy 14th spot in the Absa Premiership standings, with just 13 points from 16 games. 

Jomo Cosmos completed two more signings before the close of the transfer window last Friday afternoon. In came Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Sibisiso Khumalo, who joins on loan for the remainder of the season. Also joining Ezenkosi is former Milano United striker Mthokosisi Msomi. Cosmos will continue their fight against relegation this afternoon when they travel to Polokwane City.

Polokwane City have announced the signings of former Golden Arrows midfielder Edgar Manaka and Maritzburg United’s Themba Mavundla. The chairman of the club Johnny Mogaladi welcomed the duo and wished them well during their stay. “I have been following both their careers, seeing them grow and mature and I think that they have done remarkably well for themselves," said Mogaladi. "They chose us and we will do whatever it takes to make them feel at home” However the chairman refused to comment on the length of the contracts, as he has never been one to comment on confidential and internal matters before. Also gracing the Rise And Shine shores is a Brazilian fitness trainer, Marco Munhouz who will be stepping in replacement of Eduardo Langer Schoelar. City have also bid farewell to striker Batiste Faye and two goalkeepers Dino Visser and Kgothatso Mashia. Unlike the latter pair, who have not featured in a single Absa Premiership match this season, Faye has enjoyed a number of games in the PSL during his stay at the club.

Orlando Pirates striker Kermit Erasmus completed a surprise move to French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais last week. The French side announced the 25-year-old’s signing on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee. “Stade Rennais FC is pleased to announce the signing of Kermit Erasmus. The South African international striker, 25, joins the Red and Black for two-and-a-half years from Orlando Pirates,” read a statement on the club’s official website. Rennes, as the club is more commonly known, are sixth in Ligue 1 but a massive 29 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain. Erasmus will eventually come up against fellow South African Anele Ngcongca, who plays for struggling Troyes in the same division. Erasmus is waiting for his work permit so did not feature as Rennes were thumped 4-0 by Bordeaux in the French league.

First Division club Vasco da Gama have appointed Keenin Lesch as their new head coach while snapping up Dean Patricio following his return from Dutch club PEC Zwolle. Lesch – who has been working as an assistant coach – has been promoted to take over from caretaker coach Noel Cousins who has left after a series of bad results. Cousins took over from Tony de Nobrega back in October. Formerly a player at the club, Lesch takes over with immediate effect and will be in charge for Saturday afternoon’s league game against African Warriors at Parow Park. Meanwhile, Jarrod Maroole, Jason Dickson and Jammie Webber have been added to Lesch's squad.

Moroka Swallows have completed the signing of former Chippa United and AmaZulu defender Msekeli Mvalo. Swallows are currently in danger of dropping down to the ABC Motsepe League as they sit in 16th position, with just 11 points, at the half-way stage of the campaign. The Dube Birds have signed Mvalo in a bid to strengthen their defence as they aim to move away from the First Division drop zone. The 28-year-old defender has been training with Swallows since late last year and joins returning Nigerian winger Felix Obada who signed with the club last week. Swallows officials have confirmed that Mvalo will travel with the squad for their away game against Baroka on Sunday as he has already been registered with the league. Mvalo spent the second half of last season with the Chilli Boys, after joining from Royal Eagles, and has previously played for Usuthu as well as Golden Arrows.

National First Division strugglers side Mthatha Bucks have signed five players and released three in a bid to rescue their campaign. Bucks have brought in Simphiwe Mqandu from Cape Town All Stars and Bafana Dlamini from Chippa United, as well as young trio Sbusiso Hlubi, Lungelo Msomi and Sanele Gasa. Amathol'amnyama have released Themba Dlamini, Sfiso Ntjolo and Ayanda Luna. The club's general manager Luxolo Matikinca confirmed the transfers. Bucks are second-from-bottom in the standings with 11 points from 17 games. 

Mpumalanga Black Aces have completed the signing of Lindokuhle Mbatha from Mamelodi Sundowns. The winger has joined Aces on a six-month loan deal. "It's a done deal. He is only going there on a six months loan," says a source at Sundowns. Mbatha, a Bafana Bafana international, rose to prominence at Platinum Stars, prompting a move to Sundowns 18 months ago. However, the 30-year-old only managed five starts for the Brazilians in an injury-ravaged stay at Chloorkop.

Platinum Stars have announced the signing of Ryan de Jongh. The 26-year-old is a free agent after being released by Maritzburg United, where he was deemed surplus to requirements by coach Ernst Middendorp. De Jongh has previously played for FC AK. Meanwhile, Stars have loaned Rofhiwa Tshikovhi and Vincent Khumalo to First Division side FC Cape Town. 

Mame Niang has completed a six-month loan move to AmaZulu. The Senegalese striker has signed with Usuthu from Mamelodi Sundowns until the end of the season. “Mame Niang has joined AmaZulu until the end of the season,” the player’s agent, Steve Kapeluschnik revealed. Niang says he is looking forward to reuniting with his former coach Steve Barker.  “I worked with Steve Barker before; he is a great coach. I am looking forward to helping the team achieve its aspirations of returning to PSL next season.” 

Bidvest Wits have confirmed the signing of AmaZulu defender Sifiso Hlanti. The left-back joins on loan until the end of the season, when his contract at Usuthu expires. The Clever Boys have already brought in English striker James Keene and former Bafana Bafana captain Bongani Khumalo during the transfer window.

First Division club African Warriors have released experienced forwards David Radebe, Reason Chiloane and Boitumelo Sekgobela. Warriors executive director Dr. Balekile Mzangwa confirms the trio were let go at the recommendation of head coach Thami Ngubane. “By virture of releasing them it means they were not giving us what we expected out of them based on the recommendation of our head coach,” says Mzangwa. Radebe, who turns 37 this year, played for Kaizer Chiefs at the peak of his career. Chiloane once spent time with Orlando Pirates, while Sekgobela has represented Free State Stars. Also shown the door at Warriors is goalkeeper Teboho Matsonyonyo and Sabelo Mhlongo. The list of players that have been brought in by the club during the current January transfer window includes Ayanda Mbatha, Ayanda Ngcongo, Bhekuyise Kunene, Thulasizwe Ndlovu, Sanele Mkhize and Mfundo Nsele.

Bloemfontein Celtic have announced the signing of strikers Fiston Abdul Razak and Julius Likontsane from Mamelodi Sundowns and Witbank Spurs respectively. Razak has joined on loan after struggling for game-time in his first season at Chloorkop, while national U-23 international Likontsane has penned a three-year deal with Phunya Sele Sele. The pair's arrival in the City of Roses will help offset the exit of Malawian hitman Hellings Mhango, who was recently let go after signing a pre-contract with Bidvest Wits. "The new players will lift the pressure off our strikers and we trust that they will do the job at hand," Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco told the side's official website. "As a club, we welcome them and thank their respective teams on how they handled the negotiations." Coach Serame Letsoaka has ample options upfront, with Helder Pelembe, Geofrey Massa and Lerato Lamola also among the recognised forwards at his disposal.

Promotion-chasing First Division club Witbank Spurs have confirmed the capture of Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Percy Tau. The 21-year-old joins Spurs on a deal running up to the end of the season. Spurs boss Themba Mafu confirms that Tau will be joining them, saying: “I have wanted the boy for a while now and we are happy that he will now be joining us because we need someone like him in the team.” Tau leaves without having played any official games this season, and will be hoping to help second-placed Spurs to their target of promotion this season. 

Chippa United have signed Zephaniah Mbokoma from Cape Town All Stars as he reunites with his former coach Dan Malesela. Grant Nieuwenhuys of GN Sports Agency, who represents Mbokoma, confirms that the 23-year-old has made his dream move to the PSL after paying his dues in the First Division. Mbokoma himself is excited about the prospect of playing top-flight football. He worked under Malesela at All Stars during most of the first half of this season.

AmaZulu have re-signed the attack-minded Luyanda Hlongwa and brought in academy graduate Zola Jingxi. Hlongwa has penned a six-month contract with the NFD side, who he represented in the 2012/13 season. The 28-year-old has also been on the books of Polokwane City, Free State Stars, Bloemfontein Celtic and Roses United Jingxi, 18, has inked a three-year deal in Durban from ABC Motsepe League outfit Sgcino Cosmos, having previously played for Usuthu's U-17 team.

University of Pretoria have hired Shaun Bartlett as their new head coach in place of Sammy Troughton. Bartlett, a Bafana Bafana legend, guided Golden Arrows to the Absa Premiership last season by claiming National First Division honours. Arrows, however, opting against handing the 43-year-old a new deal, and he later worked with the South Africa U-23 team in the run-up to their successful U-23 Africa Cup of Nations campaign in Senegal. Bartlett will be aided by assistant coach Evangelos Vellios and goalkeeper trainer Tendai Tanyanyiwa. 

Ajax Cape Town midfielder Granwald Scott has completed his move to Slovan Bratislava in the Slovakian Super League. The 28-year-old left for trials a little over two weeks ago and has been successful in his pursuit of an overseas deal, leaving Slovan's technical team very impressed with his quality. His agent Mike Makaab Jnr of ProSport International confirms that Scott has put pen to paper on a two-year deal with the option of a further year.

Following the sacking of Gordan Igesund, Stuart Baxter has taken over SuperSport United as the head coach. The Englishman has been confirmed as the replacement for Igesund, who was sacked last week after Matsatsantsa’s horror run of form. Baxter comes with a big reputation, having masterminded a League and Cup double for Kaizer Chiefs last season before leaving for Turkish side Genclerbirligi, where he lasted just two games before being sacked. The former Bafana Bafana coach had joined Amakhosi in 2012 and, after losing his first match 4-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns, won the League and Nedbank Cup in his first season in charge.  In total, Baxter was involved in 125 official games with a win total of 76, 26 draws and 23 losses – becoming the first foreign coach to win two League titles within his first three years in the PSL. Remarkably, Chiefs failed to score in 27 of their 127 games, which means they were on the score sheet in 100 of those games. They scored 190 goals (at an average of 1.4 per match) and conceded 79 in all competitions. Chiefs broke a number of records during Baxter’s tenure. Most notably, they went on the longest unbeaten League run ever in a single PSL season, which stretched 19 games before it was eventually ended by SuperSport United in February. Chiefs were also the fastest ever in the PSL to get to 50 points, reaching that mark after 21 games, and they also got a points record of 69 since the PSL became a 16-team League in 2002. The former Bafana Bafana coach started his reign at Matsatsantsa in fine style by winning the Telkom Knockout Cup in 2014, but has lost more than half of his 40 matches since.

SuperSport United have agreed a deal to take Mamelodi Sundowns defender Mario Booysen on loan for the rest of the season. Matsatsantsa have battled at the back this season, and also have Denwin Farmer, Grant Kekana and Sibusiso Khumalo out injured. The 27-year-old Booysen has battled for game-time since joined Sundowns from Maritzburg United, and has yet to feature in 2015/16. Meanwhile, SuperSport CEO Stan Matthews has also confirmed that Bloemfontein Celtic and Mpumalanga Black Aces have made offers for Bradley Grobler.

South African players abroad. 

Kagisho Dikgacoi came on the final few minutes for English Championship side Cardiff City as they won 3-2 at Huddersfield to keep their promotion push alive. 

Andile Jali did not feature at all for KV Oostende as they were held to a 3-3 draw by Mouscron-Péruwelz. 

Goalkeeper Darren Keet was on the losing side as his Kortrijk side went down 1-0 to Genk.

May Mahlangu was on the losing side again for Belgian side Sint Truiden as they went down 2-1 at home to Anderlecht, piling more pressure on the technical team that includes assistant coach Benni McCarthy.

Kamohelo Mokotjo’s FC Twente bounced back to winning ways with a 3-1 home win over Utrecht, a match the Bafana midfielder played in until the end.

Dino Ndlovu did not play for Anorthosis Famagusta as they suffered a surprise 2-0 loss at struggling Ermis. 

Anele Ngcongca’s French Ligue 1 side Troyes lost 1-0 at home to Nantes with the Bafana defender playing the entire game.

Ayanda Patosi came off the bench for Lokeren in their 2-1 loss at Club Brugge. Patosi continues to struggle to get a start in 2016.

Thibang Phete played the final 12 minutes for Portuguese Primeira Liga side Vitoria Guimaraes as they won 3-1 at home to Uniao Madeira.

Steven Pienaar played the first hour for Everton as they easily beat Carlisle United in the FA Cup. It was a second start of the season for ‘Schillo’ as he works his way back from long-term injury.

Thulani Serero came on for the final 12 minutes as Ajax Amsterdam let a lead slip and drew 2-2 at Roda JC to move off the top of the Dutch league for the first time this season.