Hands off my players, says Irvin Khoza

2014-07-27 15:00

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Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza will not get involved in what he calls bidding wars for players. Instead, the Iron Duke has warned his players to “guard against psychological warfare”.

This comes in the wake of two of his players – Thabo Matlaba and Oupa Manyisa – being linked to moves away from the club to big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns.

Without mentioning clubs’ names, Khoza said this was “unsporting, against the spirit of fair play and morally not justifiable”.

He said it was not ethically correct to call players directly when they were still under contract.

“When I addressed the players, I told them I know they get calls from other clubs, but this is just psychological warfare to try and demoralise them.

“Some will say, ‘you are better off with us because Pirates don’t appreciate you’, only to take that player and not use him. I told the players to guard against this new tactic, which I don’t think is sportsman-like,” said Khoza.

He said these approaches would always tempt players, but stressed it was imperative that they stayed focused.

“Fortunately for me as chairman of Orlando Pirates, I don’t talk to my players as a businessman but as a father and I can’t allow my child to be destroyed for no apparent reason.”

Khoza also revealed that defender Siyabonga Sangweni was staying put at the club. But?he said the Bafana Bafana defender was unsettled and distracted by news linking him with Sundowns.

According to him, everything had been sorted with Sangweni and the defender would be part of the team in the new season.

Khoza said Pirates would now nurture untapped talent – Manyisa was an example of such talent and their gamble on him had paid off handsomely. On Thursday, the 25-year-old midfielder was voted the club’s players’ player and player of the season. He also shared the chairman’s award with goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, after both played 51 of the 53 games played by the club last season.

“The approach is no longer to go for brand-name players as the market doesn’t supply ready-made players any more. We are taking a big gamble and going for players who we think have potential.”

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