|Worth a few Bob: Motaung|
BOBBY Motaung’s endless struggle to make Kaizer Chiefs the biggest club in South Africa struck a major obstacle as the sun went down last night.
General manager Motaung, son of the club’s creator, brother of the once striking Junior (and the very striking Jessica, Chief’s marketing guru) claims to have signed Erik Molomowandau “Tower” Mathoho from Bloemfontein Celtic. Great move. Born on the same day (March 1) as me and a certain Robert Marawa, the 22-year-old is one of the better centre-backs in Africa and would form a dynamic duo with Morgan Gould, picked up from SuperSport United last month.
The two will probably play next to each other for Bafana Bafana as they seek a long-awaited win over Gabon in an international friendly in Mbombela on Friday night.
Just how Bobby, apparently working “closely” with new boss Stuart Baxter despite the distance separating Soweto and Wolverhampton, persuaded Celtic supremo Jimmy Augousti to part company with the Tower on the cheap remains a bit of a mystery.
Word was that Chiefs would pay no more than R3.5m “for any player” as they attempt to close the gap on arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, who have on six trophies in the past two seasons. The Sowetan newspaper is talking about an R5m fee, claiming deal is not done, but the excellent Patrick Baloyi records the sum as R3m for a done deal.
Tower’s market value was probably three times that. Yet according to my esteemed colleague Baloyi at The New Age, it appears, after an unsuccessful trial with Holland’s FC Twente last season, Mathoho has decamped to Naturena despite the haggling.
Tower’s agent, Tim Sukazi, explains it thus: “The constitution of this country ensures we do not deal in the slave trade in football. Gone are the days when players could be coerced into joining clubs against their own choices."
Strange that. In Europe, a contracted player goes to the highest bidder when personal terms are settled. And there is little question Sundowns would have bid more than Chiefs for Tower, and just about anybody else they fancy.
Next up after Gould (transfer fee not disclosed) and Mathoho? That would be the Free State Stars striker Edward Jabu Manqele who will turn 25 on June 16.
Today we are told that Manqele, who burst on to the scene with 10 goals for the little stars of Bethlehem last season, is also available for a remarkably modest fee. And, according to kick-off.com’s “source close to”, he has been offered a R75 000-a-month salary plus a R600 000 signing-on fee.
Now normally, signing-on fees are only offered to players who are out of contract and available on a free transfer. I find it hard to believe Manqele was made available on that basis by Stars, but details of the young striker’s contract are sketchy.
Problem is, Bobby may not have offered enough. According to a third club interested in Manqele, Patrice Motsepe’s billions have come in to play. The Sundowns supremo offered to double the Chiefs offer last night.
Kick-off.com quotes their source as saying: "Chiefs have offered Edward a very, very good contract, but the boy is now confused because Sundowns keep upping their offer as well.”
Manqele, plucked from Vodacom League Trabzon FC by Bafana interim boss Steve Komphela last year, is quoted as saying: "I am still in the dark. I will know my future with Free State Stars next week Monday, and for now I would rather not comment on which team I prefer to join."
That’s wise. Because, of course, Chiefs – the richest club in South Africa with a huge Vodacom sponsorship, huge sponsors and an estimated 15 million Amakhosi behind them – are not quite playing the game.
Bobby, who told us last year he didn’t need a CV to work for the family business, insists: “Manqele is one of our targets, but as negotiations are challenging, I cannot confirm when we will reach an agreement with his club.”
That’s when, not if. Yet Bobby’s refusal to pay more than R3.5m is patently ridiculous. That amount – around 320,000 pounds in British terms – would barely buy you a Conference (fifth division) journeyman in England. And if you think R70,000 a month is a reasonable offer for one of the best young strikers in the country, consider this: Yaya Toure is on 250,000 (R2.7m) a WEEK at Manchester City – where mere squad players earn a minimum of R3m a month.
Chiefs, with all their resources, should be competing at a far higher monetary level to satisfy the non-rising Amakhosi, frustrated as they watch the Buccaneers plunder silverware with alacrity. Instead, Bobby is trading on the Chiefs brand to bend young stars to his bargain-basement desires.
We all know Sundowns pay over the odds. Even if Manqele went to Chloorkop for the rumoured R140,000 a month, Elias Palemba and Teko Modise are reported to be on nearly three times that after their moves from Supersport and Pirates.
We also know that many top young stars go to Mamelodi purely for the money… and disappear amid the dozens of expensive young things competing for Johan Neeskens’ attention.
It’s financial madness of course. But ask any Arsenal fans if money matters – and they’ll tell you all about England’s 2012 champions Manchester City. Just as Bobby is trying to operate within daddy’s budget, Arsene Wenger attempts to keep within upcoming UEFA constraints in Europe. And the Gunners, like the Amakhosi, went trophyless again last season, missing out on the big signings as they attempt to deal within a tight structure.
For City’s Sheik Mansour, read Sundowns’ Motsepe. Pay the money and you win the titles.
Motaung, who has also spotted Leopards' Zimbabwean striker Kingston Nkatha despite the fact he is “not for sale”, is unfazed. He tells Baloyi: “We have been working hard in ensuring that we sign players that fill Chiefs’ standards and we all know what Mathoho can offer. His jersey is waiting at Naturena.”
We’ll see, Bobby, we’ll see.