Amazulu coach hits back

CityPress - - Sport - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

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.

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PHOTO: KHAYA NG­WENYA

TAKE­OFF Ru­dolf Bester of Mar­itzburg United is pur­sued by AmaZulu play­ers

AT LOG­GER­HEADS AmaZulu coach Craig Rosslee (left) and club direc­tor Lunga Sokhela

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