TLOU SEGOLELA’S agent Tim Sukazi is “95 percent sure” his man will play for Orlando Pirates in the Carling Cup against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday.
Sukazi insists “political hazards” are all that stands between Segolela and a new contract. And he feels “Socks” might have made the difference in the Buccaneers’ opening African Champions League clash with Leopards last Saturday.
“Gautrain” Segolela, 25, scored five goals for Pirates last season – but started only seven games, coming on as an “impact substitute” 16 times. Since he signed for the Sea Robbers from Limpopo’s Seemole FC in 2007, every season has been much the same – apart from 2009 when he was on loan at Celtic and scored seven times.
With “Socks” voted in by the fans for Saturday’s sell-out Soweto derby at Soccer City, Sukazi said: “We live on hope right now. We really hope he will play on Saturday, we made some real progress in our meetings with Pirates yesterday.”
New signing Kermit Erasmus is on stand-by to start but Sukazi insists: “There is a 95 percent chance Tlou will play on Saturday but last week it was unfortunate he was left out against Leopards because he hadn’t signed.
“When you look at the result and reflect on that Leopards match (it ended 0-0 against the Congo champions, though Pirates were comfortably stronger), if they had Tlou they might have three points in the bank. They would be top of Group A in the African Champions League.
“Tlou is in tip-top condition. I think Roger de Sa will give you a hint along those lines. He had him in the starting eleven for the Leopards game.
“There is no problem in training, Tlou has been at Orlando Pirates for several years, we want him to continue and flourish there.
“The hold-up has been about regular game time. This is a player who is very talented, has got what it takes, now he has to sign a new contract at the same club.
“We want the new deal to have a playing element. We are doing our best. We should win on this one.
“You are right Neal, in South Africa there shouldn’t be guarantees that a player MUST play, the stars can lose form, only at training can you see that. To play a player EVERY WEEK? It becomes an impossible thing to do. I’m not advocating that.
“But at Pirates we are well aware Tlou didn’t play as much as he should have because of his ability, but due to “political hazards” as I call them.
“That where we were trying to write something in to the new contract.”
I asked Sukazi if now departed playing rivals Benni McCarthy, Takesure Chinyama or even coach Roger de Sa were “political hazards” last season, or if rumoured demands of FOUR TIMES his previous wage were the problem, but he insisted: “It’s not about money, obviously in every commercial deal, money is a primary consideration it doesn’t matter which space you are operating in.
“We have to eradicate the so-called “political hazards” and unfortunately they were not contractually covered. We have to address a situation where Tlou is sitting watching games from his couch when he is better than the players on the field.
“It’s not the players. It’s more to do with the structure than the playing field. The way things were operating, it wasn’t about Tlou’s ability, he just wants more game time to deliver.
“He watched from the grandstand for a long time last season, then in the game against TP Mazembe towards the end of the season he played and never looked back. And then came two goals for Bafana against Lesotho.
“Prior to those goals in Maseru there were no signs Pirates wanted to sign a new contract. Then they were interested. But we don’t want to get caught out in the same situation again. I don’t want Tlou to sit for three more years in a situation where he isn’t playing regularly."
Though Tim was reluctant to name those "political hazards", Pirates are one of several PSL clubs reliant on a host of "football advisors" rather than coaches when it comes to contracts and signings.
It appears Segolela languished on the bench - or on his couch - for weeks last season because these shadowy figures - with no great footballing backgrounds - back one player over another on the basis of who signed them.
Those "political hazards" were particularly rife at Platinum Stars before Cavin Johnson took over and are known to have been at work at Sundowns when Johan Neeskens was in charge.
Sukazi insists: “Hopefully we have sorted this issue. No more “political hazards”, Tlou has a great chance of playing on Saturday. Of getting that contract signed. A 95 percent chance.”
Tim was a guest on BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za, which happens every Thursday from 10am-noon. We also spoke to Wits coach Gordon Hunt, Mpumalanga boss Clive Barker and Bongani Khumalo's representative Glyn Binkin. Those interviews will appear here later.
You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & Pray” column every Tuesday inwww.thenewage.co.za. A shorter version of THIS story will be published in The New Age tomorrow too.
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