United push to keep players

2011-06-29 00:00

MARITZBURG United has begun its pre-season training and, according to the club’s chairperson, Farouk Kadodia, there is an aura of optimism as the team prepares for another season in South Africa’s top-flight football.

The side spent the latter part of last season in a bumpy relegation battle, and a string of solid performances under re-hired coach Ian Palmer saw the Team of Choice avoid the drop and finish in a respectable 12th position on the log.

Palmer has since signed a contract that will keep him in Sleepy Hollow for another year and the bulk of the side that finished last season with a flourish will remain together when the new campaign kicks off in August.

Kadodia revealed that the contracts of club captain Fadlu Davids and defender Peter Peterson have been extended by a year, while that of defender Elias Ngwepe is at a “50/50” stage.

“We have approached Elias with an offer that is in line with what the coach wants to achieve and now we will wait and see,” said Kadodia.

The chairperson reiterated that attacker Rudolf Bester will be part of the set-up next season.

The Namibian has been the subject of much speculation and has said he wants to leave Maritzburg and play at a bigger club.

Bester has two years left on his contract and Kadodia said he will exercise caution in managing one of the side’s most exciting players.

“Other clubs have tried a trick here to disrupt the player, but he is legally bound to stay with us,” he said.

“We are not going to put any extra pressure on him and we will make sure that when he returns he does so with a fresh mind and is ready for the challenges that lie ahead.”

The club is also trying to retain the services of bulky striker Diyo Sibisi, who was instrumental in United’s run of good performances towards the end of last term.

Sibisi, who was on loan from Ajax last season, has returned to the Cape Town club to see out the last year of his contract, but Kadodia said that negotiations between the two clubs are ongoing.

“We are very hopeful of securing Diyo for next season; we have spoken to him and he wants to come back,” said Kadodia.

“The original asking price was too high from Ajax, but we have re-evaluated and he will be arriving in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday for us to meet with him again.”

The club was told that Sibisi was involved in an automobile accident while in Cape Town though the extent of his injuries is unknown. “We will see how badly he was injured, but if he is okay then we will move forward with the negotiations,” Kadodia said.

The services of elusive midfielder Gert Schalkwyk seem less likely for next season, though.

Schalkwyk, also on loan last season, has returned to Orlando Pirates whose team management have said they will need to spend a few weeks looking at the player before deciding whether he will be required.

This weekend will see around seven triallists from Ghana and Nigeria visiting the club.

“We have room for three more foreign players, but we don’t know if the level of the guys coming this weekend will be of the standard we are looking for,” said Kadodia.

The PSL is expected to have a meeting with representatives of all 16 PSL teams tomorrow, when the fixtures for the new season are expected to be released.

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