Bucs to dump Mat­laba

De­fender has been left out of Pi­rates’ CAF squad, a sign he is on the way out

Sunday World - - Front Page - By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa

Or­lando Pi­rates de­fender Thabo Mat­laba’s days as a Buc­ca­neer are num­bered.

Mat­laba has been with the Buc­ca­neers since 2012 af­ter join­ing from Free State Stars, but sources close to the club told Sun­day World that he is on his way out.

Mat­laba, 30, is a no­table omis­sion from Pi­rates’ list of play­ers for the up­com­ing CAF Cham­pi­ons League an­nounced re­cently.

There are a few other play­ers who have not been reg­is­tered, in­clud­ing Glad­win Shi­tolo, Wayne Sandi­lands and Lu­vuyo Memela.

But for Mat­laba, it’s yet an­other in­di­ca­tion that he’s set to leave. Be­fore the be­gin­ning of this sea­son, Mat­laba was meant to join Chippa United, but de­clined the move and was re­in­stated to the team.

But af­ter his CAF snub, our in­for­mants have painted a bleak fu­ture for Mat­laba with the Soweto-based side.

“The re­al­ity is that he’s not in the [CAF] squad and that’s a clear mes­sage that he’s not in the club’s plans,” said our source.

Mat­laba is in the last seven months of his con­tract and will be free to ne­go­ti­ate with other teams from Jan­uary with a view to a move at the end of the sea­son – or he could spend the rest of the cam­paign on loan.

Bucs men­tor Mi­cho Sre­do­je­vic ex­plained this week that the 27-man CAF reg­is­tered squad was picked for the ear­lier rounds of the tour­na­ment and since teams are al­lowed to reg­is­ter a max­i­mum of 30 play­ers, places are still up for grabs from the group stages.

But an­other source close to the player in­sisted that Mat­laba’s fu­ture is in se­ri­ous doubt. “Thabo’s sit­u­a­tion is like fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle and some fights are just not worth it.

“You must also re­mem­ber that in football a player is quickly for­got­ten by the fans when their team is playing well. If Pi­rates were not do­ing well, you would have some of them ask­ing about him, but ev­ery­thing is quiet on his side,” added the source.

Mat­laba’s fu­ture is ap­par­ently set to be de­cided in the com­ing months when he’s sched­uled to meet with the club’ s man­age­ment.

While Sre­do­je­vic didn’t shed much light with his com­ments about the play­ers miss­ing from the CAF squad, Mat­laba’s agent Ab­bie Rasim­phi also didn’t give much away.

“This is a club mat­ter and when they do some­thing, they have their own rea­sons – so that has to be re­spected,” Rasim­phi said.

Pi­rates open their CAF cam­paign with a home pre­lim­i­nary round clash against Light Stars from the Sey­chelles at Or­lando Sta­dium on Wed­nes­day.

The re­turn leg will be played a week later.

/ Gallo Im­ages / Philip Maeta

Or­lando Pi­rates left back Thabo Mat­laba.

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