Last week’s mass cull of PSL players should have set alarm bells ringing all over the league.
The release of over 50 players from contracts left a lot of manne without employment.
While some of those players have been lucky enough to have deals in place and a handful have been picked up on free transfers since then, many of them are still worrying about where their next pay cheque is coming from.
By some coincidence last weekend, I ran into one such player who has the misfortune of having an uncertain future.
We recognised each other in the playground where our kids climbed on a jungle gym overhead.
And we got to chatting about the harsh axing of him and his colleagues.
While he had nothing bad to say about the club that had let him go, he did open up about how badly the Covid pandemic had hit the football industry at large.
It’s a reality that we all face and my heart went out to him.
He added that many of his colleagues over the years had also been let go.
And as I went over the names of the players released when I got home, I noticed another strange coincidence – Lebogang Manyama, Granwald Scott, Clayton Daniels, Nazier Allie and George Maluleka were all among the stars.
For Cape football fans, these manne were part of one of the best teams to represent the Mother City.
As products of the now-defunct Ajax Cape Town academy at Ikamva, they would go on to form the core of a great team.
From 2009 to 2011, they were in Foppe de Haan’s exciting young team that came so close to winning the PSL title in the 2010/11 season – missing out by a goal difference of four.
Ending level on 60 points with Orlando Pirates, the Cape side had even won more matches than eventual champions Bucs.
What a time that was.
Playing ahead of former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Hans Vonk,
Daniels formed a central defensive partnership with Orlando Pirates misfit Thulani Hlatshwayo.
In the backline, they were flanked by Allie on the right and Brett Evans on the left.
At the base of midfield, Scott shielded the defence and added grit to the silky skills of Maluleka.
Up front, Manyama rotated in an attacking trio with Sameehg Doutie, Khama Billiat, Thulani Serero, all buzzing behind Terror Fanteni.
For those of you who don’t remember that the Cape had such an yster team, let me tell you that they were a joy to watch.
Daniels was a silky operator in the backline, being able to carry the ball out of the back with calm.
“Tyson” Hlatshwayo was a no-nonsense tackler, who, for all his
bravery, was also great at snuffing out danger as well as covering at rightback.
He’d go on to move Pirates and captain Bafana. He is now a sondebok in Orlando. And I hate to say it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was let go in this window with all the hate he gets from The Ghost.
Allie was a solid rightback who didn’t have to overlap much, due to the talent up front – more on that later.
Scott was one of the most underrated holding midfielders in the game. Despite having a great engine to get around the park, his discipline and ability to read the game was were his best qualities.
He’d move to Slovakia before returning to SA with Wits and scored Stellenbosch’s winner in the last game of this season before being cut loose.
Maluleka had a great passing range, a powerful shot and a threat from a deadball before going on to star for Kaizer Chiefs and being released this week by Mamelodi Sundowns.
With him pulling the strings in midfield, Billiat, Doutie and “Cream” Serero, who would later leave for Europe, could run wild.
Backing that trio up was Manyama.
Capable of playing in all four forward positions, Manyama made the hard yards.
A strong runner with the skills to match, he was another challenge for tired defenders who had to skarrel after Billiat, Doutie and Serero.
Lebo would eventually leave for Gauteng, first to SuperSport United, but he returned to the Mother City in 2016 as part of Cape Town City’s takeover of Mpumalanga Black Aces.
And what a season he had – captaining the side to TKO glory and helping them finish third as the PSL Player of the Year before moving on.
At 31 years of age, the attacking midfielder is linked to a return to City, as former boss Eric Tinkler looks to strengthen his squad for Caf Champions League action.
It’s heartbreaking to think that all these players still don’t have a home for next season. They can still add value and expertise in the PSL and I just want to wish them all the best.