Leopards need funds - Confederations Cup drains club
BLACK Leopards boss David Thidiela has gone cap in hand to the sports ministry as the financial burden of his club's African expeditions takes its toll.
Success so far in the CAF Confederation Cup has come at a price for Leopards, who have had to travel to Zimbabwe, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and, most recently, Sudan.
And costs could rise even higher if the Limpopo-based club should overcome Sudan club Al-Merreikh, whom they host at Ellis Park in the second leg of a preliminary round cup match on Saturday at 3pm.
"We spent about R600000 for our trip to DR Congo in April," said Leopards brand manager Tshifhiwa Thidiela yesterday.
"The hotel was not up to standard and we were forced to make new hotel reservations.
"It's a huge financial challenge for the club."
The Premier Soccer League has pledged R1m each to Leopards and Orlando Pirates, who played in the Champions League.
David said the club had sent a letter to the sports ministry two days ago.
"We've also asked Sasol for finance and I'll have to go back to the PSL, if need be. Safa has been very supportive so far. But we'll keep knocking on doors."
Participation in Confederation of African Football tournaments has often posed financial challenges for local clubs and Kaizer Chiefs dumped the "costly" Confederation Cup in 2005. CAF subsequently banned Chiefs from African club competitions until 2009. The Soweto giants have not bothered with African competitions since.
But Leopards see things differently, and have received moral support from Bafana coach Gordon Igesund. "Leopards are new in the tournament but they have impressed so far," Igesund said.
"I know how difficult it is out there. But playing the second leg at home, I think Leopards will have a better chance of victory."