Wanderers fail in bid for NFD franchise as league kicks off

2010-09-08 00:00

AS the 2010/11 National First Division season for both Coastal and Inland Streams kicks off this weekend, disappointment lingers among KwaZulu-Natal fans as one of the oldest clubs in the country will not be part of the proceedings this year.

African Wanderers, who have been out of the limelight since their relegation from top-flight football nearly a decade ago, have been trying hard to edge closer to the Absa Premiership, but their attempts to buy an NFD franchise have officially fallen away.

The ambitious Wanderers management, which includes eThekwini mayor Obed Mlabam, originally set their sights on the franchise of Port Elizabeth-based Bay United and later Free State’s Carara Kicks.

Talks broke down as a result of numerous reasons. Had the Abaqulisi deal gone through, it would have been good news for KwaZulu-Natal football lovers, especially the Midlands community.

Now Abaqulusi are preparing for life in the Second Division (Safa Vodacom League) once more.

A further disappointment for the NFD is that its sponsorless clubs have to survive on R150 000 monthly grants.

The PSL is yet to announce whether it intends increasing grants or whether it is any closer to finding a sponsor for the second-tier division.

An interesting NFD matter worth mentioning is that next season will see both streams merging into one.

This follows a National Soccer League Board of Governors meeting held in May.

The resolutions taken were that teams shall field five South African-born players who are under 23 years of age; three foreign players will be fielded. The 2010/11 NFD winner be promoted automatically.

The team finishing 16th in the Absa Premiership will be relegated and the 15th-placed PSL team will go into a round-robin play-off with the second and third-placed teams in the NFD to determine who gets to play in the PSL.

Of all three KwaZulu-Natal NFD teams, Thanda Royal Zulu have shown the strongest intention of earning promotion by enlisting the services of veteran coach Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane.

Richards Bay-based Thanda, who are eager to bounce back to top-flight football after a two-year absence, have roped in a number of ex-PSL players including striker Phumudzo Manenzhe, defender Edward Malinga (both ex-Orlando Pirates), right-back Sakhile Mhlangu (Golden Arrows) and forward Lucky Mzizi (Kaizer Chiefs, AmaZulu and Bloemfontein Celtic).

Thanda kick off their campaign with an away clash against African Warriors in the Free State on Saturday afternoon.

Nathi Lions, who missed promotion by a whisker last season, host Cape Town’s Hanover Park at S.J. Smith Stadium near Wema on Friday.

Lions, who have lost key players like Zambian striker Songwe Chalwe, will be looking to former Mpumalanga Black Aces and Thanda coach Sammy Troughton to see realise their long-cherished promotion.

In the Vodacom League, two Umgungundlovu teams kick off their campaign with home ties.

Maritzburg City host Bright Stars at Northdale Stadium on Friday evening.

Former City, Pirates and junior international midfielder Andile “Sguda” Cele is the new head coach and will be assisted by former City members Mncedisi Liphuko and Sboniso “Dico” Mchunu.

SAPS Callies, who gained promotion from the SAB League, will be visited by KwaMashu All Stars at Ugu Sport Centre on Saturday night.

The third local Vodacom outfit, Sobantu Shooting Stars, are away to Gqikazi All Stars in Ulundi on Sunday.

FIXTURES

National First Division Coastal Stream:

Friday: Nathi Lions v Hanover Park (S.J. Smith, 7 pm)

Saturday: African Warriors v Thanda Royal Zulu (Charles Mopeli); FC Cape Town v Carara Kicks (NNK Rugby); Bay United v Blackburn Rovers (Buffalo City)

Safa KZN Vodacom League:

Friday: SAPS Callies FC vs KwaMashu All Stars (Ugu Sport Centre, 7 pm)

Saturday: Maritzburg City vs Bright Stars FC (Northdale, 1 pm); Dundee XI Experience vs African Wanderers (Oval Sports Field, 3 pm); Durban Warriors vs Real Magic FC (Newtown A, 3 pm); Wembezi Juventus vs Newcastle Sicilians (Mooi River Stadium, 3 pm); Durban Stars FC vs Abaqulusi FC (Sugar Ray Xulu, 3 pm);

Sunday: Amajuba United Killers vs Island FC (Osizweni, 3 pm) Gqikazi All Stars vs Sobantu Shooting Stars (Ulundi Stadium, 3 pm)

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