Local News - Issue 297

Moses Mabhida To Host 2017 AFCON Qualifier Next Month 

Moses Mabhida Stadium will host Bafana Bafana's crucial 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cameroon next month. The clash will take place on 29 March, with Bafana’s last competitive match having come against Angola back in November. Moses Mabhida has been good hunting ground for the national team; they qualified for Afcon 2015 by beating Sudan with the match to spare. It was the first time that Bafana qualified for the biennial tournament since 2008 in Ghana.  Bafana, who were yesterday commemorating 20 years of the Afcon 1996 triumph, today jump one spot to 73 in the FIFA world rankings. 

Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs have officially named 26 players set to represent the club in African competition this year, with four places still up for grabs. The reigning PSL champions will start their 2016 CAF Champions League campaign against Comoros outfit Volcan de Moroni, with the first away leg scheduled for this Sunday at the Stade Said Mohamed Cheikh in Mitsamiouli in Comoros. CAF laws indicate a 30-man squad can be utilised for their competitions, yet the Glamour Boys have held back on four berths in their side. “The club decided to register 26 players for now, which will leave four spaces available for June, when more players can be added for the group stages,” read a statement on the club’s official website. Kick-off on Sunday is scheduled for 2pm South African time, with the return leg taking place at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 27 February. 

The 26-man squad is as follows:

Reyaad Pieterse (1), Brilliant Khuzwayo (16), Itumeleng Khune (12), Siboniso Gaxa (2), Erick Mathoho (3), Daniel Cardoso (4), Siyanda Xulu (5), Reneilwe Letsholonyane (6), Willard Katsande (8), Camaldine Abraw (9), George Maluleka (11), Lucky Baloyi (13), Siphiwe Tshabalala (14), George Lebese (17), Kgotso Moleko (18), Bongani Ndulula (19), Siphelele Mthembu (20), Morgan Gould (21), Edward Manqele (22), Keegan Ritchie (23), Tsepo Masilela (24), Bernard Parker (25), Lorenzo Gordinho (26), Hendrick Ekstein (27), Sula Matovu (28), Ivan Bukenya (30)

Three players that Polokwane City announced had left the club in January are still training with the team after refusing settlement offers. On January 29, Polokwane sent out a press release saying that Senegalese striker Baptiste Faye and goalkeepers Dino Visser and Kgothatso Mashia had parted ways with Rise and Shine. However, it has come to attention that the trio trained with the side last week. “The three players haven’t officially left the club because they are still trying to reach an agreement on the settlement for the termination of their contracts,” says a source. “All three players were at training for the club’s last training session on Friday afternoon and are expected back at training on Tuesday afternoon if they are still not in agreement with the club regarding the settlement of their contracts. All three players are not happy with what the club has offered as settlement for the termination of their contracts. So they are still reporting for training because they are all still technically contracted despite not being in the club’s plans,” explains the source. Faye started three games this season for City, all of them while Kosta Papic was still the head coach, while Visser and Mashia haven’t played at all this season.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have parted ways with coach Jacob Sakala and team manager Benedictus Mogotsi. Aces say financial reasons forced them to release the pair. 'Aces confirms that the employment of certain staff members has been terminated for no fault reasons resulting from the difficult economic circumstances facing South African businesses,' the club said in a statement. 'Aces takes this opportunity to thank Benedictus (Thethe) Mogotsi and Jacob Sakala in particular for the part they have played at the club and to wish them well for the future. 'Mogotsi and Sakala have thanked management of Aces for the opportunity to play a role at the club and for the manner in which the process was approached and dealt with.' Sakala was previously working as a scout and assisting head coach Muhsin Ertugral. The Zambian served as AmaZayoni's caretaker boss when Clive Barker was reassigned to the club's development structures in mid-March last season. Sakala oversaw three wins, five draws and two defeats in his 10 games in charge.

Ajax Cape Town are not officially out of this year’s CAF Confederation Cup just yet, as they await a response from the country’s football governing body Safa. The Urban Warriors last week announced they will not be participating in the continental competition this year due to concerns with player safety and travel arrangements. However, it is the responsibility of Safa to withdraw the club from the tournament, with a meeting today between the football governing body and Ajax scheduled to discuss the matter. “Our withdrawal isn’t finalised,” head coach Roger de Sa told reporters. “We’ve announced our withdrawal because of our problems, but according to what I hear, Safa has to withdraw us. So we are waiting to see if they will withdraw us or not, or make us play. “There’s a meeting today with Safa and our directors regarding that. I don’t know too much about it. We’ll hear more about it later today I’m sure, but Safa are trying to turn it around and see what they can do.” De Sa says Safa have not been very helpful in the build up to their scheduled fixture against Angola outfit GD Sagrada Esperan├ža, which was set to take place this weekend. “There was numerous attempts of communication and requests for help and assistance [with Safa],” De Sa reveals. “I always felt we were pushed: ‘The federation there will sort you out, no worries, somebody there will sort you’ and so on, and you get pushed from pillar to post. But sometimes that’s the way it’s got to happen: when you announce a withdrawal, then everyone jumps. So maybe it’s not a bad thing. But let’s see what happens now.” The Ajax coach says his team are still ready and willing to participate in the competition. “We still want to play – we’ve never shied away from that, otherwise we would never have done injections, passports, flight bookings, hotels and so on,” he said. “We’re ready to go, but we still awaiting confirmation of an itinerary from the other side.”To do 1 200km, you need to know how you are going to travel, and if it’s safe, and if you landing on a gravel airstrip – we just want to know that.”

Banyana Banyana have welcomed the early start to preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The squad of 29 players is sweating it out at the Nike Football Training Centre in Pimville, Soweto, and captain Janine van Wyk is happy with the progress. “The camp is going very well; the morale is high and everyone is doing well at training,” she says. “We are all fighting for a spot to be among the final 22 that will go to Rio, which makes each and every training session very competitive. “The good thing is that it is healthy competition, but we all know it will be sad to see teammates who don’t make it to the tournament – whoever they may be – but that is something we will deal with when it happens. For now, the focus is on training and getting ready for Brazil.”

Striker Hellings Mhango started training with Golden Arrows on Monday as he prepares to see out the season with Abafana Bes'thende. Mhango was released by Bloemfontein Celtic last month after the club took issue with him penning a pre-contract with Bidvest Wits. The Malawian can only link up with Wits on July 1 as the Clever Boys have exhausted their foreign quota for the season. Mhango, therefore, opted to reunite with Clinton Larsen at Arrows on a short-term deal. "There are a few things I am trying to sort out in Johannesburg," says Mhango. Mhango previously played under coach Larsen at Phunya Sele Sele.

Thabo Nemukondeni has signed a three-year contract with University of Pretoria. The former Alexandra United striker was snapped up after a training stint with AmaTuks, who could field the 23-year-old in tomorrow's clash with Orlando Pirates at Tuks Stadium. Meanwhile, Tuks have decided against recruiting ex-AmaZulu midfielder John Arwuah following talks between the two parties. The Ghanaian recently returned to South Africa following a spell with Cypriot side AEL Limassol, which was cut short due to financial problems.

Thanda Royal Zulu have fired their coach, Major David Bright due to poor results. Roger Sikhakhane has already been linked with a move to AmaBhubezi who lie 12th in the National First Division. According to a source at Thanda, Bright has been handed a letter terminating his contract. “The relationship between Major Bright and Thanda is over,” the source says. “Everything happened last week.” Bright joined Thanda in November last year after losing his job at Black Leopards following his criticism of management’s interference in technical affairs.

Aristide Bance is back with Chippa United after flying to Europe last week following interest in his services from Turkey. The Burkina Faso international missed his club's 3-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Tuesday night. Chilli Boys owner Siviwe Mpengesi says Bance was given permission to make the trip. “There was an offer from Turkey but it was not good enough,” says Mpengesi. Chippa coach Dan Malesela also confirmed Bance sat out the game against the Brazilians with a groin injury.

Dan Malesela is still working without an official contract at Chippa United. ‘Dance’ took over the reins in December when Roger Sikhakhane was suspended for allegedly reporting to a game smelling of alcohol. Sikhakhane has since taken the club to the labour court over unpaid salaries. “I am still in charge of the team,” says Malesela. “I am coaching the team at the moment; I am not the official head coach, but I’m in charge of the team at the moment and that’s why you are talking to me. “It’s not about a position. I don’t care about positions and stuff like that. It’s not for me to decide because I don’t own the club... the club will decide when. “Obviously there are issues that are still pending and after that is completed all announcements will be made.” Under Malesela the Chilli Boys have played six, won three and lost three.

Bafana Bafana have climbed a solitary spot in the latest Fifa rankings, released last Thursday morning. There was little change across the ranking table, with very few countries participating in A-rated matches over the past month. Bafana Bafana did however manage to bump up one spot to 73rd, with their next scheduled encounter a 2017 Afcon qualifier against African giants Cameroon on 29 March. The world’s top 18 ranked sides remained unchanged, with the Palestine the biggest movers in the overall rankings, moving up 21 places to 110. In the world’s top 50 ranked teams, 31 are European, with just African countries representing, as Ivory Coast lead the way in 28th spot, followed by Cape Verde Islands in 33rd.

Polokwane City have hired former University of Pretoria coach 'Sly' Mosala to serve as a scout. Mosala and Sammy Troughton were jointly put in charge of AmaTuks when Steve Barker switched alliances to AmaZulu last season.  Mosala later fell out of favour with the club's management, while Troughton was given the axe last week after 17 years with the struggling outfit. City, who just parted ways with defender Punch Masenamela, announced Mosala's appointment in a statement, which said: 'Polokwane City has today signed, former University of Pretoria assistant coach, Selaola 'Sly' Mosala as a team scout. 'Among his duties Sly, as he is widely known in the sporting fraternity, will be to asses and analyse matches and is employed on contract basis. 'The two parties involved in this matter, the club and Mr Mosala has decided on not disclosing the period/duration of the contract. 'Sly Mosala is a qualified SAFA graduate with level 3 pro licence for coaches. Among his achievements, Sly has played a role in the promotion that saw AmaTuks move from the National First Division to the Premier Soccer League. 'He has also had the privilege to win the Multichoice Diski Challenge while still at Tuks and travelled with the team to the Netherlands.'

Polokwane City have confirmed the departure of defender Punch Masenamela due to 'discipline issues'. The former Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Platinum Stars left-back joined City at the start of the season, making 12 league starts for the club. Rise and Shine released a statement, which said: 'The club would like to officially announce the departure of our former player, Punch Masenamela. 'Following issues around discipline which resulted in the latter having not reached common ground a decision was taken to part ways amicably. 'The club has however opted not to engage in-depth with regards to this matter as the aforesaid involved parties have deemed it unnecessary. 'Mr Masenamela has had a long and reasonable career span at #RiseAndShine having seen some of the worst and best days in and out of the pitch. The club would like to wish him all the best of luck in his career endeavours and thank him for being a part of this brand.' 

Mpumalanga Black Aces have confirmed the registration of Mukuka Mulenga following his signing on transfer deadline day. The Zambian international has joined Aces from Mamelodi Sundowns on a loan deal running up to the end of the season. According to Aces coach Muhsin Ertugral, the 22-year-old might make his debut when they host Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday. “Mukuka has been registered after joining us from Sundowns,” says Ertugral. “The tiny concern that was there is that he came with a small niggling injury, but we hope he is available for selection this weekend. “Right now he is the kind of player we need because he can unlock the tightest of defences; he is the Khama Billiat type of player. I know he hasn’t played for a while, so we will not be putting so much pressure on him as far as sharpness is concerned, though we believe he can do a job for us."  Since being signed by Sundowns at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, Mulenga has never played in an official match, having spent his first season injured before being loaned out to Bloemfontein Celtic last season. This season Sundowns didn’t register him as they had already exhausted their foreign quota.

South African players abroad

Daylon Claasen was not in the match-day squad as 1860 Munich continued their German Bundesliga season after the winter break with a 1-0 home loss to Nurnberg.

Kagisho Dikgacoi was also an unused substitute for Championship side Cardiff City as they were held 0-0 by lowly Milton Keynes Dons to drop five points off the pace for the promotion play-off places.

There was no sign of Kermit Erasmus in the match-day squad for French Ligue 1 side Rennes as they drew 1-1 at Lille.

Andile Jali scored his first goal of the season as his Belgian side KV Oostende defated Lokeren 1-0. Jali had missed the last few games with injury. 

Darren Keet was left disappointed after his Kortrijk side were held to a 1-1 draw at home by bottom side Westerlo.

May Mahlangu played for Sint Truiden as they defeated Standard Liege 2-1 in a Belgian league clash.

Kamohelo Mokotjo’s FC Twente continued their recent revival with a 3-1 victory at Foppe de Haan’s Heerenveen as they completed back-to-back wins for the first time this season.

Anele Ngcongca played for French Ligue 1 side Troyes as they were defeated 2-0 at Bastia to fall 15 points back from safety.

Kgosi Ntlhe remains frozen out at third-tier Peterborough United after it was confirmed he would leave the club at the end of the season.

Ayanda Patosi was back in the Lokeren starting line-up after overcoming injury but was replaced midway through the second half in the 1-0 loss to KV Oostende.

Thibang Phete did not feature for Portuguese topflight side Vitoria Guimaraes as they disappointingly drew 1-1 at bottom side Tondela.

Steven Pienaar was on the bench as Everton won 3-0 away at Stoke City to keep their top-six hopes alive after a topsy-turvey English Premier League season.

Thulani Serero was not included in the Ajax Amsterdam squad for their top-of-the-table clash against Feyenoord, a sign perhaps of his impending exit from the Dutch club.