Schillo makes clever choice, joins Wits

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MA­ZOLA MOLEFE

IN what is per­haps the big­gest story of the trans­fer win­dow so far in the PSL, the reign­ing Absa Premier­ship cham­pi­ons Bid­vest Wits yes­ter­day signed former Bafana Bafana cap­tain Steven Pien­aar, who had be­come a free agent af­ter com­ing to the end of his con­tract with rel­e­gated English Premier League side Sun­der­land last month. “We have agreed to a one-year con­tract with an op­tion to re­new it for one more year at the end of the up­com­ing sea­son” said Wits chief ex­ec­u­tive Jose Fer­reira. “It is not like we have not been of­fered Steven be­fore be­cause agents call us all the time about play­ers, but the truth is that we only started speak­ing on Tues­day and con­cluded ev­ery­thing the next day. He chose the cham­pi­ons, and the best team in the league, and he knows it.” It’s a clear sig­nal of in­tent from the Clever Boys to arm them­selves with heavy ar­tillery as they at­tempt to de­fend their ti­tle, which was the first one in the club’s his­tory in 96 years. Pien­aar, 35, was ex­pected to re­turn home at the be­gin­ning of last sea­son and was linked with a move to Or­lando Pi­rates, a club he has pub­licly ad­mit­ted to sup­port­ing grow­ing up. David Moyes, who signed the mid­fielder while at Ever­ton sev­eral years ago, con­vinced him to join Sun­der­land for a sea­son when he took over. He man­aged 15 ap­pear­ances dur­ing a hor­ren­dous cam­paign for the Black Cats and has de­cided to re­turn to a league where his ca­reer be­gan with Ajax Cape Town in 1999 be­fore he moved to par­ent club Ajax Am­s­ter­dam two years later, go­ing on to en­joy a glit­ter­ing ca­reer in Europe. A vet­eran of two World Cups – he rep­re­sent­ing Bafana Bafana at the 2002 global show­piece that was co-hosted by South Korea and Ja­pan, as well as on home soil in 2010 – Pien­aar re­tired from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball five years ago, cit­ing a need to fo­cus on his club foot­ball to pro­long his de­sire to play at the high­est level. Pi­rates, by the ad­mis­sion of chair­man Irvin Khoza last year, did in fact at­tempt to lure Pien­aar to the Buc­ca­neers, but the move failed to ma­te­ri­alise. Wits have seem­ingly hit the jack­pot by ac­quir­ing his sig­na­ture, even if it is just for a sea­son – the gen­eral feel­ing be­ing that he will be a mas­sive ad­di­tion to their squad if he stays fit. Pien­aar has of­ten been in­jury prone, with a trou­ble­some calf in­jury keep­ing him out of the Sun­der­land first team in the English Premier League last sea­son. Mean­while, striker Ndu­miso Mabena has been linked to a move to Kaizer Chiefs af­ter he parted ways with Plat­inum Stars. It is be­lieved ne­go­ti­a­tions stalled be­tween the club and a player, who has been ar­guably their best goal poacher for the past sev­eral years. Should he join Amakhosi, who on Mon­day an­nounced the sign­ing of Phi­lani Zulu from Mar­itzburg United and Teenage Hadebe from Chicken In, it will be as a free agent.

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