Tornado must weather storm to retain crown

Coach Motsoeneng is confident his team can win the ABC Motsepe League again and set the record straight

Tornado coach Tshepo Motsoeneng expects his team to come out fighting in defence of their title so they can qualify for back-to-back berths in the National First Division playoffs this season, after failing to gain promotion to the NFD this year.
Tornado coach Tshepo Motsoeneng expects his team to come out fighting in defence of their title so they can qualify for back-to-back berths in the National First Division playoffs this season, after failing to gain promotion to the NFD this year.
Image: Randell Roskruge

Provincial ABC Motsepe League defending champions Tornado are confident they will defend their league title so they can return to the promotional playoffs back-to-back.

These sentiments were shared by club coach, Tshepo Motsoeneng, who told the Dispatch that they were returning to the third-tier league because they didn’t achieve their objective which was to win playoffs and gain promotion to the National First Division.

“We fell short on goal difference but I feel we didn’t lose many players. Instead, we attracted more talent and we now have players who have been to the playoffs.

“And that’s what everybody in the league is doing, getting seasoned players.

“We now have players that want to succeed and we want players that have competed before because we want to gain points as early as possible,” said Motsoeneng.

He vowed they would be going to Cape Town to represent the province again at the ABC Motsepe promotional playoffs to the NFD at the end of the season. “We are still the champions up until the last game of the [new] season so it will be up to us to surrender the title, but the plans for Tornado are simple.

“We want to do it back-to-back [reach the playoffs]. It’s never been done before in the Eastern Cape, but I’m confident that we can do it.

“Not because we are arrogant or anything, but because we’ve planned properly and we want to succeed in bringing top-flight football here in East London.

“We can see what’s happening in PE, Chippa [United] are struggling left right and centre and we want to avoid having another team going down without us not having anything to give to our people.’’

Motsoeneng said he had assembled a new team altogether, but had managed to retain four players from last season.

“We couldn’t stand in the way of players who wanted to venture into greener pastures. “We lost [Charlie] Hlalele to Amazulu, Charles Gallagher to TS Sporting and Thabiso “Forlan” Mikaele has signed with TS Galaxy.

“We’ve lost many players including Sydney “Paulo” Ntsoane who is with Buya Msuthu now and Amandla “Amigo” Mrhwebi is with PE Stars.

“So it means in the starting line-up we have lost enough players and I don’t know what’s happening with our keeper Phuti Lekoloane as he hasn’t reported for camp.”

He said they would reveal all the names of their players once the provincial SA Football Association had concluded the registration processes.

“We do have players who have been in the PSL. They will guide the younger stars as well as coaches.

“Maccabi came to the playoffs here [in East London two seasons ago in 2016-17] and then last season they went to Limpopo and today they are champions.

“TS Sporting were just lucky on a day that found themselves in a group that would allow them to prosper and gain promotion.

“So I don’t see a reason why we can’t go to the playoffs again.

““The team has grown. It has awareness and we are aware of the threat that is being posed by Mthatha Bucks.

“[Bizana] Pondo Chiefs we are aware of them, PE Stars we also aware that they have Mondli Funani as a coach [former Mthatha Bucks assistant coach]. We know challenges are going to be there but we are prepared,” said Motsoeneng.

The champions will swap the North End Stadium for the Sisa Dukashe Stadium which will now be used as their home ground for the season.

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