Local News - Issue 311

Reneilwe Letsholonyane set to leave Kaizer Chiefs after eight years at the club.
Reneilwe Letsholonyane set to leave Kaizer Chiefs after eight years at the Sowetan giants.
Letsholonyane Leaves Chiefs After Eight Years

Kaizer Chiefs confirmed that midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane will leave the club at the end of the current season. The club have announced that the 33-year-old will see his contract at Naturena come to an end in June, following failed negotiations between the two parties. 'Yeye' joined Chiefs back in 2008 from Jomo Cosmos, and has gone on to represent Bafana Bafana over 50 times. Letsholonyane has thanked Kaizer Chiefs' management and fans for their support over the eight years he has been with the club.  The 33-year-old midfielder will join SuperSport United at the end of the season on a two-year deal. "I have spent the majority of my career with South Africa's biggest club and it has been a wonderful journey," says Letsholonyane, whose exit from Amakhosi was confirmed last week Thursday after months of speculation that he would reunite with Stuart Baxter at United.  "I would like to thank the chairman, fans and the management for the unbelievable support they have given me over the years. I will forever be indebted to them. "All journeys, however, have an end and I have decided that it's time to travel on a new path," adds 'Yeye'. Letsholonyane's agent Steve Kapeluschnik says his client thought long and hard about the move after Chiefs made a decent offer to extend his stay at Naturena. "Obviously there has been huge interest in Yeye whose contract with Kaizer Chiefs ends at the end of the season."Chiefs presented a decent offer and Yeye thought long and hard before deciding to join SuperSport United." The Glamour Boys will play their final game of the season against Chippa United at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Bloemfontein Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco has confirmed the departure of midfielder Keagan Buchanan. "We were obviously stunned by Keagan’s request which he made immediately after arriving from Cape Town where he was recovering from a torn ligament injury. The team gave him time to recuperate at home and we constantly engaged with him through his manager and agreed we would finalise everything when he returns. However, he came into the office this morning and asked to be released citing change of environment as one of the reasons to leave,” Konco told Celtic's website on Monday. “The club would love to wish him all of the best in his future endeavours. I must concede, he was the most integral part of the team and served us with determination and absolute commitment. Even though it’s hard to accept his request, we are left with no option but to grant him his wish. Once again, we thank him for his professional conduct on and off the field.”  Buchanan, whose contract at Phunya Sele Sele was due to expire at the end of the season, expressed gratitude to the club. “Unfortunately, I have taken the decision to move on… I am eternally grateful for the opportunity given to me by Celtic not only to play but to make a name for myself. Although it was a difficult decision for all parties, I thank the management of the team for allowing me to leave. I will forever cherish the moments I have shared with the rest of the team.” Buchanan has struggled with injury in the past two seasons, having joined Celtic from FC Cape Town in July 2013.

Ajax Cape Town’s Under-19 side have been crowned the first champions of the NextGen tournament held in Amsterdam. Beating the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, PSV Einhoven and Ghanaian side Right to dream en route to Monday’s final, the team coached by Vladislav Heric beat ASA United of Ecuador in the semi-finals to set up a final date against Tottenham, who they had beaten 2-0 in the group stages. A cagey first half produced no goals, yet the young Urban Warriors side made the most of their opportunities in the second period, scoring twice on the counter-attack thanks to a brace from winger Leo Thetani to secure another 2-0 win, and with it, the inaugural NextGen tournament trophy.

Bidvest Wits have agreed to release nomadic striker Kris Bright prior to the expiry of his contract to allow him more time to prepare for his wedding at the end of the month. Bright has actually battled to make any impact since arriving at the beginning of the season with a single goal all he has to show for his time in South Africa. Jose Ferreira, the Wits CEO, confirms that the New Zealand-born forward has already left. “He [Bright] has been released,” says Ferreira. “He is getting married at the end of the month so we have allowed him to go a bit earlier.” Bright will wed here in South Africa. Indications that the 29-year-old would be released were clear from as far back as the beginning of the year when he wasn’t registered for the CAF Confederation Cup. The journeyman forward had previously played for clubs back in his homeland and in Holland, Norway, Greece, England, Hungary, Malta, Finland and India before he landed in South Africa at the beginning of the season.

Darren Keet is set for a move to Major League Soccer in the United States, according to reports in the Belgian press. The Bafana Bafana back-up goalkeeper is at the end of his contract at KV Kortrijk and having lost his place in the first team is in an obvious search for a new challenge. The reports gave little detail about a next destination but only that Keet was keen to go to the U.S. The 26-year-old former Bidvest Wits goalkeeper left for Belgium in 2011 and was an instant hit at Kortrijk, named as the club’s player of the season in 2013. Over five seasons he has started 139 games for the club but been on the bench since a 3-0 loss to Anderlecht in mid-march. Kortrijk are still involved in the post-season play-offs in Belgium to determine a place in next season’s Europa League but Keet’s place has been taken by Greek goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis.


Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United set for Nedbank Cup showdown.

The Nedbank Cup final will be staged at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday, May 28. Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United will lock horns in the final after seeing off Free State Stars and Baroka respectively. The game will start at 15h00, and will be the first ever topflight final at the venue. Premier Soccer League acting chief executive Mato Madlala said: "We are excited to be going to Peter Mokaba Stadium. After we hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, we made a commitment to the football fraternity that we will do our best to utilise the venues that were built for the World Cup and to ensure they remain active. "Also, we need to give the people from these areas an opportunity to watch cup final football. The visit to Polokwane is long overdue so we glad that it has finally happened. We can’t wait for 28 May 2016 and I hope people from Polokwane and surrounding areas will pack the stadium. "We have been often asked to take a final to that part of the world and we know that the response will be very positive. We would like to thank our sponsors Nedbank for their cooperation during the tournament and we look forward to what would be a spectacular affair in Polokwane."

Thobani Mncwango says he is unsure whether he will still be at Polokwane City next season with his contract due to expire in June and the club having made no move to exercise their two-year option. The 28-year-old has plundered 12 goals this season, 10 of them since January, to be the leading striker in the PSL in the second half of the campaign. That tally is boosted by the four goals he netted against SuperSport United as City romped to a 4-1 success at the start of the year. “My contract ends this season, though the club does have a two-year option to extend it. They have not yet spoken to me about whether they will though,” says Mncwango. He says he is relaxed about his future though and will take things as they come. Mncwango has an outside chance of finishing top-scorer in the PSL this season as he trails leader Collins Mbesuma of Mpumalanga Black Aces by two goals and is one behind Jeremy Brockie from SuperSport United. Polokwane are away at Bloemfontein Celtic in their final league game of the season on Saturday.

Banyana Banyana will face Netherlands in two friendlies in Waalwijk on June 4 and 7 as part of their preparations for the Rio Olympics. Both games will take place at Mandemakers Stadium. The first will be played behind closed doors and will start at 15h00. The second is open to the public and will kick off at 19h00. Banyana coach Vera Pauw is excited to play her home country, who she also previously coached. “We could not have asked for a stronger opposition. This will help us gauge how far we have come with our preparations. I would like to take this moment to thank the South Africa Football Association and our proud sponsors Sasol for working tirelessly to ensure we have the best preparations,” said Pauw. “I know very well that the players will come out of this fixture with a lot of experience and will know what to expect when we get to Rio. I just hope the girls will be able to learn one or two things from these clashes.” The Dutch are currently ranked 13th in the world, while South Africa are 54th. This match also comes at a good time for the Netherlands, who are preparing for the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro Championship. They are hosting the event from July 16 to August 7. In their last four friendly matches, The Orange Lionesses defeated Denmark twice (2-0 and 2-1), beat New Zealand 2-0 and lost 2-1 to Canada.

Cast into an unfamiliar striking role, South African teenager Luther Singh continues to be on song in the new Swedish season after netting the winner for second-tier GAIS this week. The 18-year-old bagged his second of the campaign with a clinical finish in the 1-0 victory over Atvidaberg that kept up the club’s good start and continues to win rave reviews as he enters his first full season at the club. And with their squad having had a virtual overhaul in the off-season by coach Benjamin Westman, Singh says the signs are they are starting to gel and will only get better as the campaign goes on. Singh played more as a winger last season but has been thrust into a striking role as the club aim to use his electric pace and fine dribbling ability. It paid off against Atvidaberg as he beat the offside trap to race clear, round the goalkeeper and score. The second South African at GAIS, 21-year-old midfielder Pule Maraisane, has made less of an impact having not yet featured in the league. He has been on the bench on five occasions though, including against Atvidaberg. Singh and Marsaine are both products of Farouk Khan's Stars of Africa academy that has also produced the likes of May Mahlangu, Tokelo Rantie, Surprise Ralani and for a time was the home of Tefu Mashamaite.

Ronwen Williams linked with a transfer to Orlando Pirates.

Orlando Pirates are believed to have made contact with SuperSport United regarding the services of goalkeeper Ronwen Williams. Pirates are expected to release keeper Felipe Ovono at the end of the season after he struggled for game-time in his first year in South Africa. Williams, meanwhile, will be mindful that Matsatsantsa are also eyeing Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper Reyaad Pieterse, whose contract at Naturena expires in June. The Sea Robbers, who visit Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals on Saturday, are looking to reinforce their squad after a disappointing campaign in the league. It was recently reported that Bucs are closing in on Nigerian defender James Okwuosa from Chippa United, while midfielder Mahlatse Makudubela has also been linked with the Soweto giants.

Ivorian-born striker Aristide Bance has parted ways with Chippa United. Bance joined The Chilli Boys at the beginning of the season but has decided to pack his bags and leave the team after a fall-out with the club's management. The widely-travelled Burkina Faso international has not featured for Chippa since their 3-0 defeat at University of Pretoria in February, due to a dispute over his unpaid salary. The 31-year-old attacker managed three goals and two assists in 14 Absa Premiership appearances.

Former Nigeria national team coach Stephen Keshi is interested in coaching in the Premier Soccer League, according to agent Tim Sukazi. Keshi, who is currently without a job after leaving the Super Eagles last year,has joined forces with Sukazi's QT Sports with the hopes of a move to South Africa. "Yes, I can confirm that Stephen Keshi has joined the QT Sports family," Sukazi confirmed."Keshi is a legend, whose experience both as a player and a manager speaks for itself. We are proud to have him on board." While Sukazi confirmed that no concrete offers have come in for the 54-year-old Afcon-winning coach yet, the law practitioner says they will also look beyond the borders should nothing materialise in South Africa.

Kaizer Chiefs will be turning to Zambia in their search for a new striker to address their goals shortage up front. The Glamour Boys have struggled for goals from their strikers and seek fresh blood to lead their attack next season, with Lewis Macha identified as a prime target. Word is that Macha has already been at Naturena and could be taken on board for next season as part of the major overhaul expected at Chiefs during the off-season. Macha, 24, has been playing in Mozambique for Ferroviario de Maputo since the beginning of the year after joining from HCB Songo, where he was in double figures last season. He has also previously played for Zanaco and Nchanga Rangers.Chiefs are also believed to be considering another Zambian player, Lineker Mwikisa, who spent time at Mpumalanga Black Aces five years ago and has also been playing in Mozambique. 

South African Players Abroad

Daylon Claasen was not in the match-day squad for German Bundesliga II side 1860 Munich in their final game of the season, a 2-1 loss to FSV Frankfurt. It was a dead rubber for 1860 as they had already confirmed their safety from relegation.

Kermit Erasmus made a second appearance of the season for French Ligue 1 side Stade Rennes when he played the final quarter of the 2-1 loss to Bastia that saw his side finish the season in eighth.

Andile Jali played for Belgian side KV Oostende as they defeated Genk 2-1 to leave the club a point behind Genk in the UEFA Europa League play-off position with two rounds of matches remaining.

Darren Keet was again on the bench as Kortrijk lost 1-0 to Sporting Charleroi in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League qualification play-off.

Dino Ndlovu did not feature in the match day squad as Cypriot side Anorthosis Famagusta finished their season with a 2-2 draw at APOEL.

Thibang Phete played for Portuguese top-flight side Vitoria Guimaraes as they drew 2-2 at Arouca to complete their campaign with a mid-table finish.

Steven Pienaar’s Everton career looks to be over as he did not make the bench in a 3-0 victory over Norwich City on the last day of the season. Pienaar is now out of contract at Goodison Park and looks unlikely to be offered a renewal.

Granwald Scott played the full game for Slovakian side Slovan Bratislava as they played to a 1-1 draw at ZemplĂ­n Michalovce in their penultimate match of the season.

The season is over for Lars Veldwijk after his PEC Zwolle side were thrashed 5-2 by Utrecht in their UEFA Europa League play-off match to lose the tie by the same scoreline on aggregate.

South African-born goalkeeper, Danny Amos, who is keen to play for Bafana Bafana, hit a low in his career as he played in a 1-1 draw for Hapoel Acre in the Israeli league that sealed their relegation. Ironically, Amos previously won a league title with Hapoel Kiriat Shmone, the side who sealed his fate on Monday.

Cheyne Fowler played the final few minutes as his Finnish second-tier side continued their fine start to the season with a 1-1 draw at EIF that leaves them third in the table.

Marvin Graf had scored on Friday for Swiss second-tier side Wohlen, his third goal of the season as he spends time on loan from FC Zurich. But on Monday he could not help his team avoid a 4-1 defeat at Schaffhausen.

Mandla Masango came off with 10 minutes remaining as his Danish side Randers won 3-2 at Viborg, with all their goals coming in an 11-minute spell in the second half.

Mihlali Mayambela was left out of the match-day squad for Swedish side Djurgarden as their difficult start to the campaign continued with a 2-0 loss at AIK.

Lebogang Phiri returned to the Brondby starting line-up in their 3-2 win at Esbjerg that moves the club into fourth in the Danish league and on course for qualification to the UEFA Europa League next season.

Bradley Ralani was a second half substitute as his Danish second-tier side drew 2-2 at Skive. It matters not though, he has already secured promotion to the top-tier next season.

Joel Untersee was missing through injury for Swiss league side Vaduz as they won 2-1 at Grasshoppers to make a major step towards safety. Vaduz are five points clear of the drop zone and must play the two other teams in danger of the drop, Lugano and FC Zurich, in their final two matches of the season.