By Robson Sharuko
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS have plunged into the race to sign crack Zimbabwe international striker, Takesure Chinyama, in what should trigger a fierce bidding battle in South Africa that will also involve Super Diski champions Orlando Pirates.
After a 2011/2012 season dominated by the Golden Oldies Club of Siyabonga Nomvethe (34) and Benni McCarthy (34), who all returned from spells in Europe to forge a successful home career, it’s no surprise that Chinyama’s name has become hot property in South Africa.
SuperSport United, who made the first move, are likely to be elbowed out by the cash-rich giants with Sundowns’ entrance into the bidding war dramatically changing the landscape of a transfer battle for Chinyama’s signature that is set to be explosive.
Soweto giants Orlando Pirates, who won their second straight league title to make it six trophies in the last two seasons, sent their chief scout Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala to Harare and he watched Chinyama play for Dynamos in a 4-2 victory over Hwange at Rufaro at the beginning of this month.
Reports indicate that Tshabalala has prepared a good report advising the Pirates management to bring Chinyama into the Buccaneers’ fold to boost their striking options ahead of the 2012/2013 Super Diski season.
Although Pirates won the league championship, it hasn’t been lost on the club’s leadership that the Buccaneers had the lowest goals’ return, among the top four teams, scoring 39 goals compared to the 48 goals that second-placed Moroka Swallows scored.
McCarthy led the Pirates’ scoring charts with eight league goals but he was a good 12 goals behind eventual Golden Boot winner, Nomvethe, who scored 20 league goals for Swallows.
Crucially, McCarthy isn’t getting younger and would be 35 on November 12 this year, the same as Nomvethe who also turns 35 on December 2 this year, and the Pirates’ management are looking at younger but experienced striking reinforcements and Chinyama fits the bill.
The DeMbare forward, who has played in Poland and won the Golden Boot in that country, turns 30 on September 30 this year and is five years younger than both McCarthy and Nomvethe, the two Golden Oldies who stamped their mark in Super Diski this season.
Nomvethe won the PSL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, Player of the Year and Golden Boot awards, to walk away with R600 000 from the awards night.
McCarthy, who scored two decisive goals in Pirates’ 4-2 victory over Golden Arrows on the final day of the season in Durban, won the Telkom Knockout Player of the Tournament, PSL Goal of the Season and Telkom Knockout Striker of the Tournament awards.
Mamelodi Sundowns led the championship race for the better part of the season but ended up with nothing, after also losing in the final of the Nedbank Cup, and the Pretoria giants are looking at shaking up their squad ahead of the new season.
With the future of Bafana Bafana’s World Cup striker, Katlego Mphela, increasingly in doubt at the club after he was relegated to second-choice behind Nyasha Mushekwi by Dutch coach Johaan Neskeens, the Brazilians have turned their eyes on Chinyama.
Sundowns have invested heavily in Zimbabwean players, who are adored by club owner Patrice Motsepe for the hard work they invest in the cause of the club, in the past two years and a move for Chinyama wouldn’t shock the market.
Mphela scored 10 league goals this season but looked increasingly disillusioned by life at the club in the second half of the championship race as he kept warming the bench while Mushekwi, who scored nine league goals, was favoured by Neeskens.
Chinyama’s manager, Kennedy Mapeza, told The Herald yesterday that there was genuine interest in the striker’s services from Pirates and Sundowns but there was still a lot of ground to be covered.
“Two South African clubs are seriously interested in signing Takesure and, as you know, Pirates sent Screamer Tshabalala who came over here to watch Takesure in action,” said Mapeza.
“Sundowns have also emerged on the scene and we have spoken to their contacts and we should be heading south any time from now to see if we can conclude a deal for Takesure.
“It’s still early days yet but there is some movement and things can happen quickly in this game.”
Should Chinyama go to Pirates, it could signal a change in transfer policy for the Buccaneers who, in recent years, have been looking beyond Zimbabwe for their foreign players.
While all the major Super Diski clubs have a Zimbabwean influence, Pirates have been different, especially in the past few years, and their league championship-winning team in the just-ended season didn’t have a Warrior in their fold.
In sharp contrast, Kaizer Chiefs have six Zimbabweans on their books — Zhaimu Jambo, Tinashe Nengomasha, Thomas Sweswe, Abbas Amidu, Lincoln Zvasiya and Willard Katsande. Sundowns also have five Zimbabweans on their books — Mushekwi, Method Mwanjali, Lionel Mtizwa (whose future at the club remains unclear), Esrom Nyandoro and Simba Sithole.
Mushekwi, who emerged as the leading goalscorer in the Nedbank Cup despite finishing with a losers’ medal, was voted the tournament’s best player and pocketed R100 000. The hitman is set for another spell at Sundowns next season and, in a wide-ranging audio interview with Kick-Off, thanked God for guiding him through and sees himself playing in a double striking partnership with Mphela next season.
“It’s a good achievement, a personal achievement, I thank God for this,” he said after collecting his Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament award. It’s been a long season, we have worked really hard to try and achieve something but, unfortunately, we didn’t manage to win for the team.
“Killer (Mphela) was injured and I’m sure if he was around the coach would have tried to, if he really wanted me and him to play at the same time, he would have tried to fix something out but, mainly, he was injured.
“Some coaches before have played us together and it has turned out good and I just hope the coach, next season, will come up with a solution on how to get us both to play together at the same time.” Mushekwi also talked about his past as a basketball player.
“My basketball career was good. Unfortunately, it turned me into a soccer player. There are advantages and disadvantages but, mainly, the advantages are working for me in soccer.”