Owen Da Gama has revealed, for the first time, why a move to Tshakhuma FC failed to materialise with the respected South African coach having a sly dig at the club’s payment habits.
Da Gama’s story also appears to confirm Norman Mapeza’s tale when he revealed he was barred from entering his room at a South African hotel, as part of a shadowy plot to frustrate him, during his short, but turbulent stay, at TTM.
After the sale of Highlands Park’s PSL franchise to Mpumalanga outfit TS Galaxy, ODG was expected to become head coach at TTM. But nothing happened, and reports at the time said the reason Da Gama could not agree terms was because he wanted a R350 000 monthly salary and a R150 000 package for his trusted fitness trainer.
However, Da Gama says TTM chairman, Lawrence Mulaudzi, simply failed to honour their appointments during negotiations.
“No, the guy never honoured four of the appointments,” Da Gama told KickOff.com.
“He never honoured four of the appointments and I just said, “no, it’s enough now.” Nothing (was explained), nothing. No counter-proposal, no nothing.
“I just read in the newspaper that I wanted so much money and so much money. . . it’s not true. I said we must sit down, and we talk, and then we come to the agreement.
“But it didn’t happen.
“He missed all the appointments so it’s okay for me, it’s okay. I respect him, and we move on in life.
“At the moment I’m just relaxing waiting for the opportunity to come my way one day, and I’m busy with my farm, I’m okay.’’
This week, Mapeza told The Herald that contrary to claims by the club, suggesting he unceremoniously dumped them, their marriage effectively broke down over a range of issues, including those related to trust, where the two parties could not find common ground.
Mapeza said he found the conduct of club chief executive, Sello Chokoe, who was fired as coach of the same team in January, only to be hired back as the CEO in July, very questionable and incompatible with his vision.
It was Chokoe, according to Mapeza, who ordered that the former Warriors coach and his assistant Daniel Vheremu, should be barred from using his hotel room until they produced police clearances.
The incident, the coach said, provoked the chain of events that eventually led to the sensational breakdown of their relationship. Already, according to Mapeza, cracks had emerged between the two parties as some of the things he had been guaranteed would be available by the chief executive, including the players, were nowhere to be seen.
“The point is that we had no team, we had just a handful of players from Bidvest Wits and, in discussion with the CEO, before I went to South Africa, he had assured me that the right players would be available,’’ said Mapeza.
“He told me players, who have the experience to help us compete in such a tough league, were already available but when we got there, it soon became clear that was not the case.
“Of course, there were many other players at the training ground, those who come looking for a chance, about 40 or so, but I had made it clear that we wanted to have a competitive squad, and we had discussed the kind of players who could help us compete.
“We had a meeting with the club president (Lawrence Mulaudzi) and the CEO, the president was also concerned by the huge number of players at training and wanted to know what was happening.
“I told him that I had been told that there were 27 players by the CEO and we would get some five, or so, more players from Orlando Pirates but the CEO flatly denied that and said he never told me anything like that.
“That’s the first time I picked out that we were heading for problems because I come from a background where I stand by every word that I say and, when the person who is supposed to be your immediate boss, starts disputing some of the things he told you, then it’s not a good environment.
“I have to make it clear that, even before I left Harare for South Africa, I had this feeling that things would not work out as well as we had hoped, I don’t know why I was feeling like that but that is the truth and, sadly, that is what happened.’’ The Herald/KickOff.com