Striker Mphela back at Downs

2011-02-17 00:00

KATLEGO Mphela returned to training at Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday after almost a month spent AWOL as the Bafana Bafana striker attempted to force a move to Europe.

Mphela was back in training at Sundowns’ Chloorkop headquarters yesterday after a self-imposed exile that started after his last match for Sundowns in their 1-0 defeat against SuperSport United on January 22.

While the striker has not received the guarantee in writing he had asked for that he will be released by the Brazilians at the end of the season, his agent, Glyn Binkin, told Kickoff.com that the player has settled for a verbal agreement with club president Patrice Motsepe.

Mphela, Bafana’s most consistent goal-scorer in the last two years, is a target of Serbian champions Partizan Belgrade.

The return to Sundowns follows a meeting between Mphela and Motsepe on Tuesday night.

“Katlego was confident with what was promised so we just have to take the president’s word,” Binkin said.

“I appreciate his position because he just wanted to have it all resolved and I’m glad the two of them sat down to talk it through. The president knows he [Mphela] still has aspirations to play overseas, but for the moment he is back at Sundowns trying to fight for his place, which he knows won’t be easy.”

Sundowns’ caretaker-coach Ian Gorowa said the striker will have to fight to get his first-team place back.

But Gorowa, who replaced Antonio Lopez Habas a fortnight ago after the Spaniard resigned under pressure from the Sundowns fans, will be pleased to have the services of the speedy striker, who scored 10 goals for Bafana in 2010.

“Katlego adds value to the team and I’m happy he is back,” Gorowa told Football365.com. “I’m sure he now knows he has to get on with playing football and leave everything to other people to sort it out.

“It’s important not only for Sundowns but for Bafana Bafana because he is one of the top strikers in the country. We will help him get his form back.”

Binkin said he is relieved to see his client back at Sundowns.

“I now know the situation and Katlego apologised for the misunderstanding so he is back at training today. It was never an ideal position and was certainly not something that I prompted, whatever Sundowns might think,” he said.

“But the winner is football because it’s no use to anyone if he is not playing.”

Meanwhile Mphela’s Bafana team-mate, midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi, has been loaned from Premier League side Fulham to championship team Crystal Palace until the end of the season.

Dikgacoi has struggled for game time in his one-and-half seasons at Fulham despite renewing his contract for a year last month.

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