Stars boss warns teams to stay away from his players

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

"Hands off my players!"

Silver Stars' coach Owen da Gama made this passionate plea yesterday after his star player, Koketso Mmotong, was put under pressure to leave the Tycoons.

Da Gama is complaining that there are forces outside the team that are putting pressure on Mmotong to leave the inaugural Telkom Knockout Cup kings and join big spenders Mamelodi Sundowns.

Mmotong is from Mamelodi.

The 2005-06 Castle Premiership coach of the year said the player's father, Mike, has informed him that the community of Mamelodi was keen to see his son play for his home-town team, Sundowns.

"His father phoned me this morning [yesterday] and informed me that they were under pressure from the community of Mamelodi to have Koketso play for Sundowns," said Da Gama.

" I was taken aback by this because we can't allow the community to dictate to us what to do with our players. We are running a professional team here and the boy is still contracted to us.

"I'm surprised that this community is now putting pressure on the Mmotong family. Where were they all these years when this player was [being] developed at Stars? We have lost a number of good players in the past and we can't continue losing our star players.

"As much as other teams want success, we also want to be a successful club. We have just won the Telkom Knockout Cup and are on top of the log and people should just leave us alone and allow the players to focus for the new year. We are going to write a formal letter of complaint to the league next week."

Approached for comment yesterday, Mmotong senior confirmed that the community of Mamelodi wanted his 27-year- old midfielder son to play for Sundowns.

"Some members of the community came to my house on Christmas Day and informed us that they wanted to see my son playing for Sundowns," he said. "They also left a Sundowns' replica jersey for Koketso.

"I will discuss the whole matter with him and I will allow him to play where his heart belongs."

Mmotong, who signed a three-season extension to his contract with Stars at the beginning of the season, said he would join any team that gave him a good offer.

Sundowns' executive director of marketing and communications Alex Shakoane said yesterday he was not aware of the recent developments regarding Mmotong.