Chiefs make room for Mathoho
THE much-talked-about tug of war between Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns for the big Bloemfontein Celtic defender Mulomowandau Mathoho appears to have been won by Amakhosi.
The deal is signed, said an insider, but not yet sealed. It could be finally clinched early next week.
Celtic chief executive Khumbulani Konco said yesterday: "It's not a completely done deal because we are still discussing a few points. We have been sending each other a few love letters over the last 24 hours just to thrash out some issues that need to be sorted."
A source on the other side of negotiations was more optimistic about Chiefs getting the Bafana Bafana big man.
"As we speak, Mathoho is the property of Chiefs. The deal has been signed and sealed between the player and Chiefs."
The complication in the deal has been Sundowns' offer for the player. It is believed that Sundowns offered more than Chiefs, but that Mathoho prefers a move to Amakhosi where he would be certain of more playing time.
Insiders said Mathoho stood his ground against Celtic's management, who were tempted by the big Sundowns offer. Mathoho's argument was that many top players had gone to Sundowns for the money but ended up warming the bench.
Orlando Pirates had also been interested in Mathoho but pulled out of the race three weeks ago after their chairman Irvin Khoza believed that Celtic bosses were dragging their feet on the matter.
The Brazilians were so keen to sign Mathoho that they sent a delegation to the player's village near Thohoyandou to make their case. The delegation, said a source close to the negotiations, was turned away.
"The player has made it clear from day one that he is not interested in going to Sundowns. He was afraid that he might not play regularly despite earning a fat salary," the source told Sowetan. "Even his family supported him on the move to Chiefs."
Chiefs have already started making accommodation arrangements for Mathoho at Naturena. General manager Bobby Motaung had also hoped to sign Free State Stars striker Edward Manqele, but the player has joined Sundowns in a deal believed to be in the region of R8m.