When news filtered through on Sunday morning that Kaizer Chiefs had “booted out” former skipper Itumeleng Khune and current captain Tefu Mashamaite, most of their fans would have been shocked at the revelation. I mean sure there has been speculation over Khune’s future since January when it seemed like the coach was quite content with playing Brilliant Khuzwayo ahead of him even though he had made a full recovery from his injury. I for one got onto this very platform to say that Khune should leave the club.
The reason I said this was because he is the country’s finest goalkeeper, and should be on the field of play when he’s not injured. If Amakhosi were not going to play him, then he should seek game time elsewhere. We need him between the sticks for Bafana Bafana. But now things have taken a twist, and the apparent reason for his departure from the champions’ village is not being kept on the sidelines, but a money dispute as we hear.
I immediately picked up my phone to call the club about the matter, and was told: ‘We will be holding a press conference this week to make an announcement.’ The club official was very economical with information, but told me that they tried to keep the crowd favourite, but ‘there were counter offers from others, that’s why the talks have stalled.’ Now I don’t know about you, but I think the statement should have been ‘talks have collapsed.’ If they have stalled, that means you are still going to discuss it, and if you’re still going to discuss it, you wouldn’t be calling us for an announcement. What are we, stupid?
Anyway, I’m not sure how true it is that Mamelodi Sundowns have offered Khune 800k a month, and that Chiefs refused to heed his 700k demand, but I think the two parties do have a bit of a case. If Chiefs were to give Khune what he wants, they would be setting a very dangerous precedent for themselves. Now players would just hold them ransom with offers from elsewhere. That is just unacceptable. I do however think that Itumeleng Khune is well within his rights to ask for some commitment from the club.
If they were to increase his salary, that would be them telling him that they still value his contribution and actually want him to stay. That would reassure him that he will have his number one spot back, because no one would spend more money on someone they don’t plan to use. People might say he needs to prove himself like other players before he can play, but I think he has done that year after year with Amakhosi.
His teammate, and the man who has led a very large part of their record breaking campaign, is the current PSL Footballer of The Year, Defender of The Year, and Players’ Player of The Year, Tefu Mashamaite, is another one that will be making a shock exit from Naturena. Now there is no doubt that this is a major blow to the Glamour Boys. There is a very good reason Masha won all those awards. He played all 30 games in their charge towards the title, and had an overall stellar season. He is another that has had a carrot dangled in front of his face by the big spending Sundowns. Apparently he currently earns around 180k per month at Chiefs, and I think he is well within his rights to ask for more. I mean for you and I, that is pretty sexy for a salary. But for a footballer who contributes so much every time he’s out on the pitch, this is peanuts.
Also remember that he’s no longer a spring chicken. He is already past 30, and this means the sunset of his career is not very far off. He needs to make money. So as I did with Khune, I also called Masha’s agent Jazzman Matlhakgane for the real story here, to which he was very hostile and told me he’s still ‘negotiating with Chiefs.’ This is another statement that is very patronising. Again, how can you negotiate with people that are ready to make an announcement? It’s clear that the ship has sailed. I think Tefu is one of the few players that will make it at Sundowns.
And this is the one player that I think they want for the right reasons. Alje Schut is leaving them to go back to his native Netherlands, and that leaves them with a hole at the back. Now Masha will fit like a glove there because he is exactly the same player as Schut. He is a good leader with a good head on his shoulders, and scores crucial goals, just like the Dutchman. He will benefit from those Teko Modise balls just like Alje. So he will most likely go straight into the starting lineup to partner Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
I’m just worried that Downs tend to want all the players and not use them like a spoiled child in a toy store. The fact that Masha will go straight into the the team means one Thabo Nthete will be more frustrated. He’s a player who had a good career at Bloemfontein Celtic, but was tricked by Downs’ deep pockets. Again, I don’t blame the player. Anyone of us would go for money if offered a job elsewhere.
But it just ruins the players’ careers sometimes. I know of a player who played for one of the Soweto clubs and went to Sundowns. They dumped him after a few seasons, and not too long ago he was asking me for a job in the media. It is a very sad state of affairs. Obviously Khune will also be the first choice at Sundowns, meaning Kennedy Mweene will also go to the trenches – a keeper they just signed not so long ago. If Nthete and Mweene get too frustrated, they will be loaned out, and very seldom does Chloorkop recall players from loan spells. I tried to also speak to Brian Baloyi about the matter.
He is the one man that knows exactly what Khune will be in for. He travelled the exact route. It’s unfortunate that I could not get him on his phone. Brian left Chiefs at the height of his popularity, and had a few successful seasons at Sundowns. He then went on a bit of a slump, and probably wished he hadn’t left the only club he had ever known. Although I think Chiefs will be fine without Khune, they would be better with him around. They do have a knack for producing top class keepers who are always in the national team.
But one has to admit that with the two influential players gone, Mulomowandau Mathoho also looking for an overseas contract, a coach who has admitted that he could leave the club, and key players like Yeye and Shabba not getting any younger, Chiefs could live to rue this transfer window. They are tampering with and dismantling a winning team. With that said and done though, it’s still very early in “the silly season”, and what happens in the next two months will be very interesting. Chiefs fans will be hoping the R23 million their club bagged in prize money this season comes to very good effect.