League saga irks Tornado no end
Squad finding it hard to prepare for the playoffs
Tornado team manager Simphiwe Magongo says the appeal lodged by Mthatha Bucks against Tornado has taken a toll on their players, who fought hard to retain their ABC Motsepe League title for a shot at glory.
After winning the third-tier league back-to-back, Tornado have been preparing to jet off to Cape Town for the ABC Motsepe League promotional playoffs that are set to be held from June 4-9.
However after winning the league successfully on the field of play, the Mdantsane-based champions have been challenged in the SA Football Association’s boardroom, with clubs crying foul play.
Tornado are now facing one protest from Bucks in terms of rule 25 of the Safa Uniform rules, in regard to a protest Tornado won against Yaka United in April. The victory in the boardroom saw Tornado reclaiming the top spot on the log, and Bucks being relegated to the runners-up position.
“These protests did have an impact on the team at this crucial time. But luckily for us, we have a solid foundation with a strong and experienced technical team.
“And we are trying our best to help the boys focus on getting that promotion in Cape Town,” said Magongo.
“Today you have social media that can be accessed anywhere by anyone and our players have been seeing things and rumours online and that has done some damage to their mindsets.”
Magongo said they’ve made attempts to block everything negative about the club in order to focus on their campaign. But he said with Mthatha Bucks announcing that they were also preparing a team for the playoffs, things have been difficult.“When you are champions of the league and you hear that there are teams [Mthatha Bucks] that are training, preparing for the same tournament you have qualified to participate in, it does something to the mindset.“If things go our way and we win this outstanding protest against Bucks, we are leaving for Cape Town on Sunday so that we can acclimatise ourselves with the weather conditions.”But, he said it was not all doom and gloom as their campaign this time round would be boosted by the return of Thabiso “Forlan” Mikaele.Magongo said Mikaele brings much needed experience in their central midfield department. Mikaele is returning after nursing a broken arm for months.“Forlan is back after being out of action for months and he’s going to be playing a very big role in the team, assisting the other experienced guys like Vuyisile Ntombayithethi who’ve been to the PSL.“We’ve been to the playoffs and we never lost there [in Limpopo 2018].“But this year we have to make sure that we work hard and win all our games.“And I believe that the only thing that was lacking in our team last year was luck.“We played two games there and drew both of them. So we have to win everything from the get-go.”He said they’ve been addressing those challenges at training and most players in the team have been to this prestigious tournament that will see two teams gaining promotion to the National First Division (NFD), with more than R1-million in cash prizes up for grabs.“We have players that have played at NFD and PSL and some of them have won these playoffs. So they all know how big the task in front of us is.“That’s another motivating factor and there are less new guys who’ve never been to the playoffs. The likes of our local boy Akhona Magqabeni from NU5 in Mdantsane and our team captain Lonwabo ‘Lolo’ Mhlakaza.“We have got guys like Thobile Mkhize and other guys from PSL.”He continued: “For instance, one of our players, Tshepo Morake, went to these playoffs with Super Eagles and they won promotion to NFD.“So things like that give us comfort. We also have his teammate from Eagles, Tshediso Manyingisa.”Earlier this week, Safa-Eastern Cape provincial secretary Isaac Klaas told the Daily Dispatch the remaining dispute in the provincial third-tier league needed to be concluded and ruled upon by the end of the week...