Amazulu coach hits back
The two KwaZulu-Natal PSL clubs, AmaZulu and Maritzburg United, had a contrasting week leading up to the opening weekend of the season.
Usuthu coach Craig Rosslee and director Lunga Sokhela differed in opinion, with the latter saying the club’s target was a top-four finish and at least one trophy.
A peeved Rosslee told the assembled media there was no way this “dream” could be a reality because he had neither been given the players nor the war chest necessary to make the purchases he needed to build a squad good enough to make a serious run for a top-four berth.
AmaZulu kick off this season with a home game against Ajax Cape Town at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban today.
A total of 10 players have been released from their squad from last season, part of Rosslee’s vision to trim it from 36 to 24 or 25 players. They’ve enlisted nine new players.
“The board of directors has set a target of a top-four finish, as well as a Cup victory,” said Sokhela, to which Rosslee retorted: “It’s good to dream, but there are still gaps in the team as I have not been given the cash to sign players.
“There is still a long way to go before the squad is where I would like it to be.”
Sokhela would have none of it, wading in: “Finishing fourth is certainly not a pipe dream. This target is one we must all support.” AmaZulu’s new signings include former Maritzburg United centre back Robyn Johannes, Mfanafuthi Dlamini, Bornwell Mwape, Paul Were, Sadat Ouro-Akoriko and Darren Smith.
On other hand, The Team of Choice – Maritzburg United – announced they had chosen to stay put in the KwaZulu-Natal capital after landing a three-year, R36 million sponsorship deal from the Msunduzi Local Municipality.
Club boss Farook Kadodia and Pietermaritzburg Mayor Chris Ndlela jointly announced the deal.
It came as a counteroffer to a proposal by the Port Elizabeth council, which was trying to lure Maritzburg to play its home fixtures at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Maritzburg have battled without a major sponsor. Club spokesperson Brian Zuma said the deal-clincher was that the club’s directors wanted to remain in Pietermaritzburg for family and business reasons.
“This is our first cash sponsor and we are delighted to be able to stay in Pietermaritzburg,” said Zuma.
Despite this hefty cash injection, Maritzburg’s start to the season against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns on Friday night was far from smooth.
Coach Steve Komphela, who made 15 signings during the off-season, had to do without four foreign players – John Paintsil, Khumbulani Banda, Mike Mohammed and Terrance Mandaza – because their paperwork was delayed due to strict new home affairs rules.
His three loan players from Sundowns – Kwanda Mngomezulu, Sibusiso Khumalo and Abel Mabaso – were unavailable because of the clause in their loan deal that bans them from playing against Downs.
TAKEOFF Rudolf Bester of Maritzburg United is pursued by AmaZulu players
AT LOGGERHEADS AmaZulu coach Craig Rosslee (left) and club director Lunga Sokhela