Local News - Issue 305

Mokotjo Announces Temporary Unavailability For Bafana Bafana 

FC Twente midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo has officially announced his unavailability for future Bafana Bafana call-ups "until circumstances change". The 25-year-old former junior international on Monday expressed his frustrations in an emotional rant aimed at current coach Shakes Mashaba, due to his lack of opportunities to don the national team jersey in the field of play. Mokotjo has since taken to his official Instagram account to announce his decision not to honour call-ups in the near future. "To all the die-hards of SA football, the people that spent their hard earned money to come and watch us, the supporters," he started out on a post which features his surname on a South African flag. "I write this letter with a heavy heart. "As you all know, I have for my entire and ongoing career devoted my life to the game of football - proudly representing the country at junior and senior national team levels. "I have always supported the cause to improve our game in South Africa and ensure we do well in all competitions. "I have gracefully honoured every call-up and always have given my best whenever presented with the chance to don the national team jersey. "It is very unfortunate that current circumstances are not conducive to for me to break into the Bafana line-up and I respect the decisions of the technical team led by coach Shakes Mashaba. "I hereby wish to notify you all that I will not honour the national team call-ups in the near future until circumstances change." The SuperSport United youth academy graduate also went on to thank, among others, his teammates, friends and family for their support through his struggles, while revealing his hopes that things will change so that he can return to international football again at some stage. "I also wish to extend my heartfelt gratitude to my teammates - my fellow soldiers who have supported me throughout; trust me our paths will cross again," he continued. "Thank you to my family, friends, members of the media, sponsors, coaches I've played under and all those that have backed me through these trying times."I'm optimistic that things will change and I will proudly wear the Bafana jersey again one day. "I will continue working hard as a footballer and ensure that I improve my game so that I can one day be able to don the Bafana jersey with pride and represent the country in our quest to reclaim our number one position on the continent."Please respect the decision I have taken. It was not an easy one as I love my country with all of my heart."I will continue to be the number one fan of South African football for the rest of my life. "Once again, endless gratitude to the South African Football Association for the opportunity and my fellow teammates for the times we've shared."It has been an honour and a dream come true representing my country."

Siyanda Xulu’s agent says the player is back in full training following a head injury. The defender arrived at Naturena at the start of the season with huge expectations, but has failed to have the desired impact. Coach Steve Komphela looks to have now settled on Lorenzo Gordinho and Eric Mathoho in central defence, but agent Paul Mitchell says his client’s absence is down to injury. “Xulu had an injury,” says Mitchell. “It was head injury; he suffered concussion. He had to go for scans and such injuries normally take up to six weeks to heal. He has recovered and is attending full training.” 

Mpumalanga Black Aces have joined forces with the South African National Parks to Stop Rhino Poaching in an effort to raise awareness and rally support for the conservation of rhinos in the Mpumalanga province. Aces have gone beyond football borders and ventured into uncharted territory by announcing a philanthropic initiative which will see the club donating funds and giving back to the Kruger National Park. With the ongoing crisis of Rhino poaching, AmaZayoni have taken a massive step off the football pitch and onto the field of conservation by partnering with Stop Rhino Poaching, SANParks and the Department of Environmental Affairs to combat the illegal killing of rhino. “In our capacity as individuals, business owners and Mpumalanga Black Aces officials, we care deeply for the Mpumalanga province as well as the people in it,” said club co-chairman Mario Morfou at the groundbreaking announcement on Monday. “As a club we acknowledge that we are yearning to do more to give back to our people and our country and, after tough consideration, we are fully convinced that the cause we have chosen will have a positive impact on both the country and the Mpumalanga province. “This is a unique and extraordinary partnership between football and conservation – a first of its kind. Black Aces will partner with Stop Rhino Poaching. SANParks and the Department of Environmental Affairs to support the plight that is robbing our country of one of its natural resources, the rhino.” After accepting an invitation to experience the work done by the wildlife conservationist at the Kruger National Park, Aces coach Muhsin Ertugral has expressed his support of the partnership as well as the cause of fighting poaching, as well as of those who are fighting to protect the rhinos. “We cannot describe it from the outside. We have been very naïve when reading about it [the rhino crisis] in the newspapers sometimes, but to us the rangers (people who risk their own lives to protect the rhinos at the Kruger National Park) are very important,” he added. “We are going to do a lot of clinics and provide moral support [for the rangers]. They are very strategic thinkers in what they do, so what we can do from a football side is to help them get away from their problems in their daily lives and giving them the joy and appreciation that they are important to us.” Over and above their aim of raising awareness, the club will provide financial assistance to Stop Rhino Poaching via a donation for every competitive match they win, beginning with their upcoming Absa Premiership match at home to Kaizer Chiefs. “Another innovation of our partnership, which will start from our next game, Black Aces will donate R10 000 to Stop Rhino Poaching for every game we win,” revealed co-chairman George Morfou. “So the more games we win, the more we will help assist the rangers in Mpumalanga in their quest to curb rhino poaching.”  Meanwhile, the club have become the first South African football club to unveil a team mascot, named 'Ace The Rhino', which will be present at all their home games from next week onward.

South African midfielder Tlou Thobang Masegela has been turned away by Lille following a three-week trial with the Ligue One club. Masegela's slight physique is said to have worked against him. However, the 18-year-old is set for another assessment with French second-tier side, AC Ajaccio. "Tlou Tholang Masagela's trials at Lille was not successful," says Ghomba Napoleon Sime, who used to coach Masegela in Boksburg at the now-defunct Diambars Academy. "At Lille they said he's a very skillful midfielder but he wasn't big enough and tough enough."  National U-23 midfielder Lebogang Mothiba is on the books of Lille after being recommended to the club by Sime.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have promoted teenage forward Nana Akosah-Bempah from the club’s development. Akosah-Bempah who signed his first team contract last week and was on the bench when Aces overcame Maritzburg United in a Nedbank Cup last 16 match at KaNyamazane Stadium last Saturday. Information reaching this website is that Akosah-Bempah was born in the United States of America to Ghanaian parents but has been in South Africa for the past 10 years. Stocky in build, Akosah-Bempah has already made an impression on head coach Muhsin Ertugral. “Nana reminds a bit like a young Collins Mbesuma,” says Ertugral. Having already been registered with the PSL, Akosah-Bempa has been handed jersey number 37 at the club. Akosah-Bempah has previously been on a short-term attachment with English club Manchester City’s youth team.

Mamelodi Sundowns are set to extend Khama Billiat's contract with the club. The 25-year-old's existing deal expires at the end of the season, but Sundowns have the option of extending it by another two years."I just want to achieve as much as I can this season and see how things unfold at the end of the season," says Billiat, who retains ambitions of plying his trade overseas."I can only go overseas if I do well at Sundowns. If I haven't reached my full potential then I don't have a chance. If I play my best football, then doors will open for me." The Zimbabwean attacker has netted nine goals and provided seven assists for the Absa Premiership leaders this campaign. Billiat joined the Brazilians from Ajax Cape Town in August 2013. 

Ajax Cape Town have promoted two more youngsters to the PSL squad. Darren Johnson (19) and Sirgio Kammies (18) were part of the recent 2016 Metropolitan Premier Cup, where they contributed immensely in helping the team reach the Final of this prestigious U19 tournament. Johnson joined the club at the age of 17 and immediately formed part of the Young Ajax team, where he competed for a place in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge squad with current national Under-23 goalkeeper Jody February. Kammies was recruited as a promising 15-year-old right-back who became known for his strength and stamina. His talent was such that he became one of the club’s youngest players to be included in our Under-19 European tour squad at the tender age of 16. They follow in the footsteps of their Masilake Phohlongo, who was promoted to the PSL team just three weeks ago. They will join the first team at the start of the 2016/17 for pre-season training.

SuperSport United defender Sibusiso Khumalo admits he is a little worried about the club’s delay in offering him a new contract. Khumalo’s deal with Matsatsantsa expires at the end of the season, and so far the club has not indicated whether they will not offer him a new deal. He says he will be happy to stay at SuperSport if they want him. “We haven’t spoken … it’s not in my hands” says Khumalo. “I will be happy to stay at the club if they still want me and give me a good offer.  “It’s up to me to work hard and yes, of course it does worry [me about the contract], but there is nothing I can do … I have to push and do my job on the field. I have to concentrate on the games left and see what happens at the end of the season.”

Mpumalanga Black Aces have suffered a blow with news that midfielder Lebogang Manyama will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The 25-year-old broke three of his toes last month, with the club initially ruling him out for three weeks pending an operation. However, AmaZayoni coach Muhsin Ertugral confirms that the former Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United man will definitely miss the rest of their league and cup fixtures, while insisting that they will not rush his recovery.“His [Manyama] season is over, he will be [fit] next season,” reveals Ertugral. “His three toes were broken and the operation was very successful. Hopefully in the beginning of May the pins will be removed. We don’t want to force him, so next season he’ll be back.”

Abbubaker Mobara and Tashreeq Morris will be leaving for a week-long trial with Ajax Amsterdam this weekend. The two Urban Warriors will be accompanied by coach Roger de Sa as they look to impress the Dutch giants. This is the first time since 2012, when Khama Billiat and George Maluleka went, that Ajax Cape Town players are invited for trials in Amsterdam.

Vuyisile Wana is one step closer to making his long-awaited return to football – and his Bloemfontein Celtic debut. The former Moroka Swallows striker returned to training on Tuesday after spending the past 10 months on the sidelines. Wana joined Celtic at the start of the season from the relegated Dube Birds, but has not played any football since being part of the Bafana Bafana squad for their 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia, and then featured in their CHAN qualifier against Mauritius in June. It was found that he had been playing with an extensive cruciate ligament injury during the latter stages of last season. First it was said that he would have been back in action in October last year, then Celtic indicated that they were targeting a February comeback. He has now started training, albeit in short stints. Celtic manager John Maduka confirms that the player has started team training and they are targeting a comeback late next month.  Maduka added that the match against Jomo Cosmos on 27 April in Potchefstroom is earmarked for his potential return and Celtic debut. Meanwhile, Celtic are using their long break between fixtures to refocus after experiencing a torrid season. Phunya Sele Sele haven’t been in action since stunning Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on 16 March. They next play on 10 April when they host Golden Arrows, which is now coached by former Celtic mentor Clinton Larsen.

Bloemfontein Celtic have poured cold water on rumours linking them with a move for Kosta Papic. The Free Staters are in a whole heap of trouble, having won just twice in 17 games to leave them down in 12th spot in the Absa Premiership standings with 25 points from 23 games.  Coach Serame Letsoaka’s job is reportedly on the line, but Celtic are not giving anything away.  “As a club we haven’t discussed anything about changes in the technical team, so nothing has changed,” says club CEO Khumbulani Konco.  “[As for Papic rumours] I don’t know about such a thing, I only see it in the media. There was some guy from The Sowetan who also asked me about that and I told him the same thing … I don't know about Papic coming to Celtic.”  Papic is available after leaving his job at Black Leopards earlier last month.

Golden Arrows striker Mabhudi Khenyeza has been released by the club after falling out of favour with head coach Clinton Larsen and his assistant Mandla Ncikazi. The veteran hitman only featured twice for Arrows this year, most recently in a 1-0 league loss to Bidvest Wits on February 6. Khenyeza boasts over 100 PSL goals in his career, but Larsen says it was a simple decision to part ways with the 33-year-old. "What happened was we decided to release him because he's not part of the plan going forward for now until the end of the season," says Larsen. "We will assess the situation at the end of the season. I was unhappy with the contribution he was making and I said it before everybody must be treated the same, and maybe it worked with other coaches differently where he commanded more game-time. "I can't promise any player that and he was unhappy about that and the best thing for him is not to upset my team, to be at home. So it was a simple decision." Khenyeza was playing for Mpumalanga Black Aces before returning to Abafana Bes'thende in January 2014.

Mamelodi Sundowns captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele could feature against AS Vita in the CAF Champions League this weekend, after resuming training at Chloorkop. The defender is regaining fitness after being sidelined by an ankle injury in January. "He is back now," says Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who has entrusted Thabo Nthethe with the armband in Mphahlele's absence. "He has already given us 45 minutes and with the whole week I believe can give us 70 minutes, which is brilliant."If he can give us 70 minutes then we will go to Kinshasa with the advantage of having another extra player back into the team." Mosimane, however, will be without suspended pair Bangaly Soumahoro and Khama Billiat for the trip to Kinshasa.  

South African players abroad round-up.

Kermit Erasmus was nowhere to be seen as Rennes won 3-1 at home to Reims in France. Meanwhile, Anele Ngcongca missed Troyes' 1-0 home loss to Angers through injury. 

Andile Jali got his championship play-off campaign in Belgium off to a disappointing start as his Oostende side lost 1-0 to 10-man Clube Brugge. 

Darren Keet was on the bench for Belgian side Kortrijk after returning from national team duty having been laid low by a stomach bug. 

May Mahlangu was substituted at halftime by Sint Truiden in their 1-0 loss to Mechelen in the UEFA Europa League playoffs in Belgium.

Mandla Masango started for Randers in Denmark as they returned to form with a 1-0 victory over OB. The Bafana Bafana winger played the first 80 minutes.

Kamohelo Mokotjo returned to the FC Twente starting line-up after being given leave for personal reasons, followed by international duty, and helped his side come from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Willem II.

Ayanda Patosi helped Belgian side Lokeren to a 1-0 victory over Sporting Charleroi to get their UEFA Europa League playoffs off to a positive start.

Lebogang Phiri played the first 70 minutes for Danish side Brondby as they suffered a 2-0 loss at Midtjylland.

Granwald Scott was a second half substitute for Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava as they won 2-0 at Dunajská Streda. 

Thulani Serero was left on the bench as Ajax Amsterdam stayed top of the Dutch league with a 3-0 victory over PEC Zwolle. 

Tiya Shipalane bagged a goal on the opening day of the USA second-tier season as he helped Carolina Railhawks to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United. 

Luther Singh started his 2016 Swedish second-tier league season with a goal inside two minutes of GAIS’s 2-0 victory over Frej. Pule Maraisane was on the bench.

Bafana hopeful Lars Veldwijk played the full game for PEC Zwolle as they lost 3-0 at Ajax Amsterdam on Sunday.