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Local News - Issue 312

Giovanni Solinas
Giovanni Solinas has resigned as coach of Free State Stars for "personal reasons"
Free State Stars Confirm The Resignation Of Giovanni Solinas

Giovanni Solinas has resigned as coach of Free State Stars for "personal reasons". Stars hired the Italian in late December as a replacement for Ernst Middendorp, who returned to Maritzburg United for a third stint. Ea Lla Koto were 10th on the league table at the time, eventually finishing the season in 12th place with 35 points from 30 games - 10 points above the drop zone. Club general manager Rantsi Mokoena released a statement, which said: "It is with great shock and sadness to have to announce the coach’s sudden resignation from the club with immediate effect. "The coach has cited personal reasons for his sudden resignation and we have explored all possible avenues to try and help but we were unfortunately unable to assist. "We were very shocked when the coach approached the management of the club two weeks ago to announce his decision to leave the club at the end of the 2015/2016 season. We have done everything in our powers to try and intervene and assist with this personal issue in an effort to convince the coach not to leave but we have unfortunately not been able to help him resolve the problem. "He has to return to Italy to be close to his family and he needs about 4-5 months to sort out his personal issues with his family which means that he is not able to start the new season with FSS. "It is a great loss to the club, players and the supporters to have to part ways with Solinas and we wish him everything of the best in his future endeavours and we hope and trust that he will be able to sort out his personal problems back at home. "We as a club will make the necessary announcements in due course with regard to his replacement and any new players' signings for next season."

Mamelodi Sundowns captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele has confirmed that he has received offers from both local and overseas-based teams. Mphahlele’s contract with Sundowns is set to expire at the end of next month, with the Limpopo born defender currently locked in negotiations with the Brazilians amid reports linking him to both Kaizer Chiefs and Supersport United. Mphahlele says the Brazilians remain his first option, yet he must still decide on his future. The Downs captain revealed that he has received an offer from Belgium, yet negotiations with the PSL champions are currently underway.

Bidvest Wits are set to swoop for striker Eleazar Rodgers from Platinum Stars following the release of Kris Bright. The 31-year-old’s contract with Dikwena is set to expire at the end of next month, and Wits have already released New Zealand striker Bright, so there is an early space available. According to sources close to the former Santos striker, Wits have already put in an offer for Rodgers and the player is poised to make the move up to Johannesburg. “The deal is close and could happen anytime this week,” says a source. Rodgers had a useful season as Dikwena ended in third place to qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup next year, scoring seven goals and assisting four in all competitions.

Bloemfontein Celtic defender Wayde Jooste will leave the club when his contract expires at the end of next month. Jooste, who came through Phunya Sele Sele's development ranks in 2013, confirmed his exit on his official Instagram page (@iam_waydejooste). “It's with a heavy heart that I post this... I never thought I’d see the day come that I’d end up leaving this amazing club,” said the 24-year-old fullback. “I’ve become so attached to the club, and honestly never thought I’d be posting something like this so soon… The love I have for the club and the supporters cannot even be measured, you guys have always been supporting me since I broke into the first team 3 seasons ago, and even up until today you guys still support me! “But I guess there comes a time in a footballer’s career that you just have to accept things the way they are and move on, no matter how tough it may seem! “So my contract with the club ends after this season and, after much discussion with my family, the club and my agent, I’ve decided not to extend my stay at the club and look to pursue my career elsewhere! “I just really wanna thank everybody at the club, from the technical staff to the management of the club, for giving me the opportunity to be part of such an amazing team and make a name for myself!  "I'll forever be grateful for that and I appreciate everything you've ever done for me! Thanks once again! Hela yalo,” he concluded. The Port Elizabeth-born speedster made his Celtic debut on November 3, 2013 as a substitute in a 0-0 Absa Premiership draw against Maritzburg United. This season he managed 10 starts and two substitute appearances. 

Clinton Larsen has confirmed that Mahlatse Makudubela has signed a pre-contract with Orlando Pirates. The winger is currently on loan at Golden Arrows after he turned down Platinum Stars’ offer of an extension to the contract which expires at the end of the season. The 26-year-old didn’t feature in the last game against Jomo Cosmos and is also doubtful for the season finale against University of Pretoria on Saturday as Larsen is blooding some of the youngsters that won this year’s MDC trophy. “Makudubela has signed a pre-contract with Pirates; he is a Pirates player now,” says Larsen.
Platinum Stars winger Mahlatse Makudubela

The fixtures for this season’s promotion-relegation play-offs have been conformed following the culmination of the 2015/16 National First Division campaign. Baroka FC have earned automatic promotion into South Africa’s top-flight, with Highlands Park and Mbombela United finishing second and third respectively, as they join the PSL’s 15th-placed side University of Pretoria in the play-offs, which will commence this week. AmaTuks’ 2-1 win over Golden Arrows saved them from the wooden spoon, which was handed to Jomo Cosmos following their 3-1 loss to Maritzburg United. The first play-off fixture will be played between Highlands Park and Mbombela on Wednesday, 25 May, with each team involved playing each other both home and away over a period of four weeks.

All play-off fixtures:

Date                            Home                             Away
25-May                  Mbombela         v         Highlands Park
29-May                        Tuks            v           Mbombela
11-Jun               Highlands Park     v                Tuks 
15-Jun               Highlands Park     v             Mbombela
18-Jun                   Mbombela         v                 Tuks
22-Jun                          Tuks           v           Highlands Park

Platinum Stars are set to part ways with Togolese defender Emmanuel Mathias. The 30-year-old only made three starts in the league since his arrival from Mamelodi Sundowns at the beginning of the season. Mathias linked up with Sundowns in January 2013 from Heartlands but left Chloorkop without playing an official game for the Brazilians. In other Dikwena news, Malawian Robin Ngalande is returning to Bidvest Wits following the end of his loan spell, while fellow midfielder Tlou Segolela's future is still being discussed, according to a source close to the club.

Mpumalanga Black Aces are leading the race to sign Chippa United midfielder Sandile Zuke. Zuke's contract with United will expire at the end of next month, with Bloemfontein Celtic also interested in his services. However, Aces have made an official offer for their former player, according to a source close to the club. "The club has made contact. Let's wait and see," says the source. Zuke joined the Chilli Boys in July last year after spending the previous season on loan at Bidvest Wits from Aces. The 28-year-old made 19 appearances in the league in 2015/16.

Baroka FC have been confirmed as National First Division winners and will play in South Africa’s top-flight next season following their 1-1 draw with Milano United last Sunday afternoon. Mzwanele Mahashe gave Milano a 1-0 half-time lead, yet Thabiso Kutumela was on hand to net his 18th goal of the season to level matters, the point enough to see Baroka pip closest rivals Highlands Park – who were 4-1 winners over AmaZulu – by one point to earn automatic promotion into the PSL. Highlands Park enter the promotion/relegation play-offs, along with Mbombela United, whose impressive season saw them end the campaign in third after their final-day 1-0 win over Cape Town All Stars. The duo will fight it out against University of Pretoria for the final spot in South Africa’s premier division for the 2016/17 campaign. Thanda Royal Zulu's 3-2 win over African Warriors sees the latter relegated alongside last season's PSL outfit Moroka Swallows, who lost their last game of the seaosn to Witbank Spurs 5-1.

Striker David Zulu is set to return to Kaizer Chiefs at the end of the season. The 30-year-old is currently on loan at former club Chippa United. Zulu barely featured for Chiefs in an injury-affected stint, but his agent Abbie Rasimphi says his client is due back at Naturena. "He is still a Kaizer Chiefs player and that's where he belongs," says Rasimphi. "He is contracted to the club. He has two more years on his contract with his club. "There is still one more game to go and teams have not yet released their plans for next season." Zulu initially traded Chippa for Amakhosi in October 2014, penning a four-year contract with the Soweto giants.

Former Orlando Pirates midfielder Sepeke Manamela has joined Siyabonga Sangweni in announcing his retirement from football due to injury. The 33-year-old has been consulting doctors for the past three years with hopes of making a return. However, Manamela, who is the brother of deputy minister in the Presidency Bhuti Manamela, has decided to call it quits and will focus on his construction business. "It's been hell. I tried everything but could not find a solution. I have no choice but to hang up my soccer boots," says Manamela. "I have had a long exciting career in football even though I spent a lot of time on the sidelines due to injuries. I had my great times especially at Pirates where I spent four years. I did not play much but the chairman had great faith in me. In fact he was not happy when I asked for my clearance. He wanted me to stay at Pirates and told me that I was national team material and would have loved to see me playing for Bafana Bafana. I spent four years at Pirates despite limited game-time and that shows the belief that the chairman had in me." The former University of Pretoria and PJ Stars man says he remains close to the game as he runs a team in the ABC Motsepe League in Limpopo. "I am into the construction business. I am also helping youngsters turn to professional football. I have a team in the ABC Motsepe League. It's struggling with results at the moment but the main focus is to produce players for the PSL. Pirates defender Sangweni was also forced to hang up his boots this season due to a knee injury.

Liberian striker Kpah Sherman will not be returning to Mpumalanga Black Aces upon the expiry of his loan deal at first division club Santos at the end of the season. It has been gathered that Aces have terminated the three-year contract that they had with Sherman, having reached a mutual agreement to part ways. Aces have told this website they have agreed on a settlement with the 23-year-old who will now have to continue with his career elsewhere. Sherman signed at the beginning of the season from Young Africans, but did not find much joy in his first season in the PSL, managing just two starts and three substitute appearances. He was then loaned out to Santos in January, but has been unable to make the desired impact at the People’s team, who sit tenth in the National First Division standings.

Midfielder Kudakwashe Mahachi is set to leave Golden Arrows at the end of the season. The 22-year-old is currently at home in Zimbabwe following the recent passing of his daughter. "Kuda is still in Zimbabwe and as soon as he comes back we will discuss his future in football," says Mahachi's agent Mike Ngobeni, who confirmed his client will leave Abafana Bes'thende. Mahachi signed a short-term contract with Arrows towards the end of last year after a disappointing spell with Mamelodi Sundowns. "There are also some other outstanding issues with Sundowns and after that we will be in a good position to confirm where Kuda will be playing next season," Ngobeni adds. The Warriors international scored three goals and provided four assists in 19 league appearances this season.

Mpumalanga Black Aces have extended Lebogang Manyama's stay at the club by another season. Aces have exercised a one-year option they had on Manyama's contract following his arrival on loan from SuperSport United at the beginning of the campaign. “Manyama is staying, we took his option,” says AmaZayoni coach Muhsin Ertugral. “I heard there was interest from big clubs in the country and let's see how it goes. But obviously he is one of the best players we are banking on for next season.” Manyama has not played since February after breaking three toes in a match against his former club Ajax Cape Town.

Mpumalanga Black Aces will not be retaining the services of experienced midfielder Thanduyise Khuboni upon the expiry of his contract at the end of next month. Khuboni is in his second year with the club having joined at the beginning of last season from Golden Arrows. Though he has played more regularly this season Aces appear likely to release him as a cost-cutting measure. It has been reported that Khuboni’s name is on a list of players whose contracts will not be renewed. That list is now with management. “The club has already decided on a list of players that they will not be keeping for different reasons and right now Khuboni is amongst those players. At this stage he is not going to be in the plans for next season based on financial reasons and not performance-related reasons,” says a source.

Bongani Zungu is well on the road to recovery following a five-month stint on the sidelines through injury. The Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder fractured his shin on 30 January during a League match against Maritzburg United, and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. However, ahead of his move to Portuguese side Vitoria de Guimaraes, Zungu’s agent says all is going according to schedule. “He has removed the moon boot and has already started going to gym,” Steve Kapeluschnik says. “We are waiting for the doctor to give him the green light to start training.” In Zungu’s absence, Sundowns won the Absa Premiership title, but missed out on Nedbank Cup and CAF Champions League glory. 

Mpumalanga Black Aces have confirmed that Vincent Kobola will remain at the club next season after taking up the option of a further year on his contract. The defender has been with Aces for three years, having joined in 2013 after a one-year stay with University of Pretoria. Mario Morfou, the Aces boss, says that the 31-year-old will continue with the club next season after featuring regularly this term. “We have exercised the option we had on Kobola’s contract and he is staying on next season,” says Morfou.  Kobola has been a hard working right-back since breaking into the PSL with Moroka Swallows almost a decade ago. 

First Division top scorer Thabiso Kutumela will be playing for Orlando Pirates next season. The 22-year-old is one of the hottest properties around after his heroics for Baroka FC, where he has netted 17 League goals this season. Asked last week on Sport@10 on SABC whether he would be lining up for Pirates next season, Kutumela responded in the affirmative.
NFD top scorer Thabiso Kutumela

SuperSport United midfielder Michael Morton has extended his stay at the club by a further two years. The former Maritzburg United man's previous deal was set to expire at the end of June. "Michael Morton has signed a two-year extension that will see him stay with SuperSport United until June 2018," Morton's agent Steve Kapeluschnik confirmed. Morton is delighted to continue with his football under coach Stuart Baxter in Tshwane. "I have always given 100 percent effort for the club," says the 27-year-old. "I am really happy to continue playing for SuperSport United. I am really grateful for the opportunity the club has afforded me to continue playing for them." Morton joined Matsatsantsa two years ago from Maritzburg, having previously been on the books of Bidvest Wits and Orlando Pirates.