Over the hill stars’ last ditch
The National First Division season kicked off a fortnight ago with all 16 clubs taking aim at the top spot to gain promotion to the Absa Premiership, writes Timothy Molobi
In an effort to revive their careers and perhaps bounce back to the elite Absa Premiership, where money and glamour abound, about 80 players have taken a step down to showcase their skills in the National First Division (NFD). First division clubs, unlike their Premiership cousins – who play not only to win the title but finish in the top eight and ensure that relegation is avoided – have only one mission.
Theirs is to gain promotion to the top league, which comes with a monthly grant of about R1.5 million, a big step up from the R380 000 they currently receive.
Among the top teams, there are also opportunities to participate in three lucrative competitions – the MTN8, Telkom Knockout and Nedbank Cup.
Most NFD clubs have gone for experience as they take aim at the ultimate prize – winning the championship – by signing up former Premiership stars.
Top of the list is former Bafana Bafana striker Katlego Mphela, who will be looking to revive his dying career at Royal Eagles.
The once most feared striker in the country has been a pale shadow of his former self as he tried unsuccessfully to secure a contract at the University of Pretoria and Polokwane City after he was given his marching orders by Kaizer Chiefs.
This could be his last chance to reclaim his erstwhile glory days.
Other players who have taken a step down are Khethokwakhe Masuku (formerly of Orlando Pirates) and Dominic Isaacs (ex-Ajax Cape Town), who have joined the ambitious KwaZulu-Natal club Eagles.
Former Moroka Swallows defender Rudi Isaacs has joined Highlands Park, while Namibian striker Rudolf Bester and Josta Dladla have gone to the Dube Birds.
Newcomers Mthatha Bucks have former Bloemfontein Celtic striker Moses Spandeel, former Black Leopards goalkeeper Postnet Omony and former Chippa United and Maritzburg United striker Welcome Qalanto.
REVIVAL Khethokwakhe Masuku is hoping to revive his career at Eagles OUT OF SORTS Katlego Mphela has downgraded to the National First Division Baroka FC Black Leopards