Local News - Issue 298

La Liga To Bring Their Football Flavour To Cape Town

The Spanish football League, La Liga, will be bringing their Spanish football flavour to Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town, for their first official screening event on Saturday, 27 February. Fans will be able to rub shoulders with visiting La Liga ambassadors; including former Spanish International and Valencia midfielder, Gaizka Mendieta, and Patrick Kluivert, former Dutch International and Barcelona striker, while watching live the highlight of the day, the Madrid Derby with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Also watching and cheering along with the crowds will be local ambassador and former Bafana Bafana star Stanton “Stiga” Fredericks, along with a host of local football heroes and sporting legends wanting to experience La Liga with Cape Town’s most passionate fans. To bring the fans even closer to La Liga, a draw to win a trip to Spain will take place during the event. This is the first official La Liga open-viewing fan event that will take place on the Sea Point Promenade opposite the Winchester Mansions; ensuring that access to all fans is as easy as possible, and people of all ages are encouraged to attend the event to show their love for La Liga. Merchandise giveaways and ambassador signing sessions for all in attendance will be taking place, so be sure to get there early to get a chance to walk away with a piece of La Liga memorabilia. “Having just launched La Liga in South Africa, with a view to expansion into the rest of Africa, we’re so excited to get a chance now to watch such an important La Liga game with our fans in beautiful Cape Town, especially considering we’ll be watching with some of our international legends and passionate Spanish soccer fans from sunny South Africa,” says La Liga President Javier Tebas. The event is free for anyone to attend, and will also feature kids’ clinics and educational workshops, interactive games and activities, and of course, a massive screen to watch the main attraction; the game between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid which kicks off at 5pm. Refreshments will be on sale, and once-in-a-lifetime player signing sessions and photo opportunities taking place prior to the game screening. According to UEFA’s measurements, La Liga has remained the top league in Europe for the past five years and boasts the highest number of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League titles. La Liga-based players have also won the highest number of FIFA World Player of the Year, Ballon d’Or awards and UEFA Best Player in Europe Awards. The league’s players have consistently dominated annual FIFPro World XI and UEFA Team of the Year places.

First Division club Cape Town All Stars have appointed former Zimbabwe international Elasto Kapowezha as their new CEO. Kapowezha joins All Stars with immediate effect and says that he is excited about this new challenge. “As a former footballer I am very excited and I feel honoured to occupy this leading role at one of the best teams in the NFD. I am very grateful to the chairman Lunga Ncwana for giving me this opportunity,” says Kapowezha. The retired footballer already holds a Diploma in Sports Management, a Certificate in Business Management and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Marketing through UNISA. Kapowezha has in recent times emerged as a respected television analyst. He hung his boots three years after doing duty for AmaZulu, Ria Stars, Bidvest Wits and FC AK.

‘CBD’ will be reunited this weekend, with Khama Billiat expected to recover from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the game against Chicken Inn. Mamelodi Sundowns lost the first leg CAF Champions League preliminary game 1-0 in Bulawayo, with the Zimbabwean forward failing a late fitness test before the match. The loss ended The Brazilians’ 19-game unbeaten run, but they are still nine-points ahead of the chasing pack and will be confident of three more points against a struggling Golden Arrows team this weekend. CBD – consisting of Leonardo Castro, Billiat and Keagan Dolly – have 24 goals and 17 assists between them this season.

Nomadic midfielder Clifford Mulenga has surfaced at crisis-laden Moroka Swallows as he continues with his bid to get back into South African football. The Zambian midfielder was potted at Swallows training ground on Monday morning. “Clifford started training on Monday morning, but then it is not really clear if he will eventually end up being signed because the club is having financial challenges. “The situation is tough here at the club so the choice is all his; if he just wants to play then it is all good,” says a source. Mulenga spent the second half of last year at ZESCO United and recently trained with Orlando Pirates. Meanwhile, forgotten striker Excellent Walaza is still training with Swallows as he seeks to revive his career. Walaza has been sweating it out with The Dube Birds since the beginning of the year.

Former Jomo Cosmos player Fighton Simukonda has died after a battle with diabetes. Simukonda was the current Zambia national Under-23 coach and led the side to the African Under-23 Championships in Senegal late last year. He had been in hospital for much of the time since mid-December though, but was discharged earlier this month, only to fall ill again. His death was confirmed on Monday by his former club in Zambia, ZESCO United. The 58-year-old, a former captain of the national side, was viewed as one of the top coaches in Zambia and in 2009 led ZESCO to the Champions League group stages. He was a star for Cosmos for two seasons between 1989 and 1991, later playing for Giant Blackpool and Dangerous Darkies, who he would also coach. Simukonda also briefly had a spell in charge of the Zambian national side in 1998. He was named Zambia Coach of the Year in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Golden Arrows' on-loan midfielder Mahlatsi Makudubela says he is not aware of talk that he is going to join Orlando Pirates at the end of the season. The 25-year-old, who signed for Arrows until the end of the season from Platinum Stars, made his debut against Ajax Cape Town last month and has played three league matches so far. The speedy winger says his agent handles his contract matters, and he is just pleased to join Arrows as an opportunity for him to revive his football career. “Those are just speculations … for now this is my home and I'm looking forward to making the most of it and helping the team win games,” says Makudubela. “I'm looking forward to doing well for the club and I'm enjoying it … so far so good. I haven't been playing for a long time, so with game-time under my belt I hope and I know it will get better.” Makudubela, who came close to opening his scoring account in his side’s last match against Bidvest Wits last week, has shot down talk that he refused to extend his contract with Dikwena. “I didn't deny it [a new deal] … talks were straight with my agent [Abbie Rasimphi], and he was the one who was dealing with contractual issues,” he says. “That is when the agreement was reached that I should come and play for Golden Arrows on loan, which I saw as a good opportunity for me to come this side.”

Former Orlando Pirates striker Chiukepo Msowoya could be set to land a contract with Bloemfontein Celtic after impressing coach Serame Letsoaka. Msowoya is now back in Malawi after spending a few weeks training with Celtic. The Malawi international striker is expected to return to the country in June and rejoin Phunya Sele Sele for pre-season training. Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco confirms that Msowoya is expected to return to the club in June. “Remember, there was also the issue of the foreign quota but yes he is expected to return to the club in June,” says Konco. 

KZN’s future leaders have been presented with the opportunity to strike it gold in sports and academic excellence through the launch of the AmaZulu Community Trust’s KZN Future Stars programme. The programme, which was announced at a media launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium, will see the AmaZulu Community Trust collaborate with the KZN Department of Sports and Recreation, SAFA and a host of primary schools. “There’s a number of benefits that the Under-12-year-old participants stand to reap besides obtaining a step towards playing football in future. “Ours is to stay true to own of our main objectives as a club, which is to go beyond and uplifting the community and the youth,” said AmaZulu Community Trust Chairman, Lunga Sokhela. KZN Department of Sport’s Manqoba Bhengu says they have thrown their full weight behind the programme. There are bursary opportunities and life skills workshops that will be conducted on a regular basis. Scholars who have a good academic record and show great potential of playing at professional level will stand a chance to receive a scholarship to study at Glenwood High School and be part of an elite football programme. There will also be a Coach the Coach workshop and Life Skills workshop to be conducted for coaches and schools’ sports coordinators. AmaZulu first team Head Coach, Steve Barker has endorsed the effort to invest in youth through education. Barker had two players who pursued their matric education last year in Nkanyiso Zungu and Mpendulo Dlamini while Dylan Stoffels and Zola Jingxi will be completing their matric this year. Two months ago former AmaZulu and Mamelodi Sundowns player Jethro ‘Lovers’ Mohlala revealed on social media how hard it took for him to recover from bad life decisions after a long and decorated career playing in professional football. The programme will go a long way in trying to alleviate such pitfalls that have been associated with some of the country’s footballers in the past. There will be weekly training sessions to be held at schools based in the Ilembe and Zululand Districts which will be monitored by AmaZulu former players. Scouts, development coaches will also play a critical role in talent identification during the inter-school tournaments.

Golden Arrows have completed the signing of Malawian striker Hellings 'Gabadinho' Mhango for the remainder of the season. Mhango has signed a pre-contract with Bidvest Wits for the next campaign, but was left in limbo for the rest of the 2015/16 PSL season after his former side Bloemfontein Celtic cut short his contract in January after learning of his decision to leave. He linked up with Arrows last week in the hope of winning a deal and the process is now complete. Mhango is reunited with coach Clinton Larsen, who he worked with at Celtic, and will add firepower up front to struggling Abafana Bes’thende, who have lost their last four League matches. “The deal is done, we are now just finalising the paperwork around his work permit,” the player’s representative Mike Makaab said. As the permit needed is a transfer from one contract to another, it is a quicker process than starting from scratch, but whether he will be available for the away trip to Polokwane City this weekend remains to be seen.

The Premier Soccer League has confirmed the dates, venues and kick-off times for the last-32 of the Nedbank Cup. The last-32 stage will start in the first week of March. The eight clubs from the SAFA structures (7 from ABC Motsepe and one from SAB League) will be eager to make an impression when they face some of the fancied opponents in this year’s edition of the 'Cup of Dreams. The PSL also confirmed ticket prices for this year’s edition. Except one fixture, tickets for the last round of 32 fixtures will be R40 for adults and R10 for children under the age of 12. For the Soweto Derby fixture featuring Orlando Pirates against Kaizer Chiefs, ticket prices will sell between R100 (level 1 and 2) and R80 (level 3). The opening fixture (02 March) will see Nedbank Cup debutants, Mthatha Bucks travel to Cape Town to play Santos at Athlone Stadium, while Maritzburg United will host Black Leopards at the Harry Gwala Stadium. Both fixtures will kick off at 19h30. There will be two fixtures on Friday night, 04 March in Johannesburg. Bidvest Wits will be at home against Bloemfontein Celtic. In Cape Town, another Nedbank Cup debutant, Steenberg United will host Platinum Stars. On Saturday, the country will be divided when the Soweto giants Pirates and Chiefs clash at the Calabash, FNB Stadium. In Durban, Milford United will make the short trip to play Premiership side Golden Arrows at the Chatsworth Stadium in a KwaZulu-Natal derby. On the same day, Bisho-based outfit EC Bees will be at home against Magesi at the Buffalo City Stadium. All these fixtures will kick off at 15h00. In the evening, Ajax Cape Town will face another Premier Division side Free State Stars at 18h00. Just over two hours later, University of Pretoria will be at home against another side hungry to make a strong first impression, Polokwane City Rovers. On Sunday, defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns will play neighbours Highlands Park (venue to be confirmed). In Kimberly, United Rovers will clash with Mpumalanga Black Aces at the GWK Stadium – the same venue where Sundowns scored 24 goals a few seasons ago against Powerlines FC. Polokwane City will be at the Peter Mokaba Stadium against Gauteng-based club, African All Stars. On the same day, Sibanye Golden Stars will play NFD side Mbombela United at the Griffons Stadium in Welkom. In East London, Chippa United will play NFD leaders Baroka FC. All matches will kick off at 15h00. The last day of the Nedbank Cup last-32 will be on Tuesday, Jomo Cosmos play AmaXulu at Olen Park, while the Dube Birds, Moroka Swallows will be at home against SuperSport United at Dobsonville Stadium. Kick off is at 19h30. 

Tickets for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Bafana Bafana and Cameroon are now on sale. South Africa will face the Indomitable Lions in back-to-back clashes in March. The first leg will be played on Saturday, March 26 at Stade Omnisport de Limbe in Lime, Cameroon and kicks off at 15h30 local time (16h30 South African time). The second leg is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29 at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. Kick-off is at 19h00. Tickets for this clash cost R80 all round and can be purchased at Computicket outlets as well as Shoprite and Checkers stores countrywide. Bafana head coach Ephraim 'Shakes' Mashaba is expected to announce the squad to play in those matches in the second week of March. South Africa is in Group M of the qualifiers alongside Cameroon, Gambia and Mauritania. Cameroon leads Group M with six points, with Mauritania three points adrift, followed by South Africa and Gambia on one point each. The winner of the group will progress to the AFCON finals, along with two best-placed runners-up while hosts Gabon will complete the 16-nation tournament.

Cape Town All Stars have parted ways with head coach Ian Taylor. Taylor joined the National First Division side in early December following the departure of Dan Malesela to Chippa United. The 38-year-old previously worked as an assistant coach at Ajax Cape Town. All Stars, who are seventh on the table, released a statement, which said: "Cape Town All Stars Football Club can confirm that we have parted ways with head coach Ian Taylor, as well as the technical team of assistant coach Dylan Deane, goalkeeper coach Job Monatse and physiotherapist Haley Smith. "We thank them for their services and wish them all the best in their future careers. "An announcement on the new head coach will be made as soon as the appointment is confirmed."

South African abroad round-up

Daylon Claasen was left out of the 1860 Munich squad for their German Bundesliga II match against Union Berlin on Sunday. An exit looks likely at the end of the season, both as the club are becoming caught deeper in the relegation quagmire and Claasen is getting no game-time.

There was still no debut for Kermit Erasmus at new side Stade Rennes as they defeated Angers 1-0 in the French Ligue 1.

Andile Jali played for Belgian side KV Oostende on Sunday but they lost 2-0 at home to Club Brugge, another dent to their unlikely title hopes.

An error from goalkeeper Darren Keet cost his Belgian side Kortrijk two points as they played to a 1-1 draw at Sporting Charleroi.

May Mahlangu played for Belgian side Sint Truiden as they were 3-0 losers at home to Mechelen. The bad run for Sint Truiden continues…

Kamohelo Mokotjo played for Netherlands side FC Twente in their vital 1-0 victory at Roda JC that eases their relegation woes.

Dino Ndlovu played for Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta but could not find the back of the net as they lost 1-0 at title rivals AEK.

Anele Ngcongca helped French Ligue 1 side Troyes to just a second victory of the campaign when they defeated fellow strugglers Ajaccio 3-2.

Ayanda Patosi was again left on the bench by Lokeren in Belgium as they played to a 3-3 draw with OH Leuven.

There was no Thibang Phete for Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes in their 2-2 draw with Vitoria Setubal.

Thulani Serero continues his disappointing last few months as he was only on the bench for Ajax Amsterdam’s 2-1 win at Groningen.