The new Premier Soccer League season may be underway, but South Africa’s elite clubs are still chopping and changing their squads in a late attempt to improve their chances of success in 2012-13. Recent weeks have seen imports from other African leagues, potential exports to Europe and a number of notable transfers between rival PSL clubs.
Perhaps this week’s most surprising story is SuperSport left-back Innocent Mdledle’s pending transfer to Wits University – just one month after signing a two-year deal at SuperSport. The defender only left previous club Mamelodi Sundowns in July but appears to be heading to his third club in two months after realising playing time at SuperSport may be limited. Not-so-innocent Mdledle was shown the door by Mamelodi after being arrested for drink driving.
Another former SuperSport player looking for increased first-team opportunites is 21-year-old Orlando Pirates midfielder Mduduzi Nyanda, who is currently training with Bloemfontein Celtic. Unable to break into Pirates’ starting XI, Nyanda was loaned to both SuperSport and Platinum Stars last term, and has decided that his future lies away from the Orlando Stadium.
Platinum Stars have themselves completed the signing of Botswana no.1 Kabelo Dembe from Township Rollers in the goalkeeper’s homeland. Already his country’s first-choice custodian at the tender age of 22, Dembe impressed several PSL clubs after shining in Botswana’s 1-1 draw with the South African national team in June.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens seems to have closed the door on young defender Siyanda Xulu’s move to Russian outfit FC Rostov by telling reporters there would be no more transfers at the Pretorian club: “I am happy with the players who are here now, so I don’t need any more players and nobody has to go.”
Russian Premier League side Rostov had seen their initial bid of R5 million turned down by Sundowns, much to Xulu’s chagrin: the 20-year-old took to his Facebook page to slate his current employers, sighing “What about my dream; what about my career [?] It is always about money.” Keen to move abroad, Xulu has already enjoyed trials at European giants Barcelona and Arsenal, but looks set to remain in South Africa this season after Neeskens said “He can go if [Rostov] come in with a better offer”, and told the defender’s potential suitors that unless the transfer is completed by the end of the week, the deal is off.
Elsewhere in the league, defending champions Orlando Pirates added Zambian international Collins Mbesuma to a fearsome forward line that already includes ex-Blackburn forward Benni McCarthy – South Africa’s all-time top-scorer – as well as another new signing, Takesure Chinyama, who enjoyed a prolific spell in the Polish top flight, and promising youngster Bongani Ndulula, who is nicknamed “Drogba” by team-mates and coaches alike.
Portly striker Mbesuma, 28, joins on a 3-year deal from Golden Arrows, and Pirates coach Augusto Palacios has confirmed that the transfer marks the end of the club’s summer dealings, calling Mbesuma “the last player [who is] coming to Orlando Pirates to reinforce the squad for the PSL”.