giants at war

Ramatsiyi Moholoa and Meshack Motloung

Ramatsiyi Moholoa and Meshack Motloung

The spotlight in local soccer will fall on the PSL headquarters in Parktown today where two local giants will square up over a player.

Orlando Pirates and their offspring, Kaizer Chiefs, are involved in a bitter dispute over striker Siphelele Mthembu, a youngster from Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal.

The widely publicised matter will be heard by the PSL Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC).

Pirates insist Mthembu, who turns 21 on Friday, is their property and has already been registered with the PSL for the 2008-2009 soccer season.

Mthembu's registration card, which allows him to feature in an official game, is waiting for him at Bucs' offices in Parktown.

Pirates registered him from Vodacom League side Maritzburg City, owned by top KwaZulu-Natal soccer boss Bongi Hlophe.

Mthembu, who has featured for Chiefs in various pre-season games, is reported to have first signed a pre-contract with Bucs when he was still playing for City.

Irvin Khoza and Kaizer Motaung, chairmen of Pirates and Chiefs, have already met with the hope of resolving the potentially explosive war.

Present were Floyd "Jomo" Mbele, Pirates' executive administrator, and Chiefs' manager Bobby Motaung, but the matter was referred to the DRC as no solution was found.

"There's nothing to say at this moment and we'll only be able to comment after the case," said Zola Majavu, PSL prosecutor yesterday.

The Motaungs could not be reached for comment yesterday, but the club's public relations officer, Siya Makunga, said they would only know today about Mthembu's fate.

"We're in the dark at the moment as to which team the player belongs to. Both Chiefs and Pirates will depend on the outcome of the DRC."

Khoza could not be reached for comment as he is in Beijing for the Olympics with other local soccer officials.

Mbele did not want to comment on this matter except to say the were ready for the hearing and will make their presentation.

Some of the well-known disputes over players between the two clubs involved the likes of Dumisa Ngobe and the late Lesley Manyathela.

The relationship between the two South African soccer giants has been fragile but kept away from the public. But the Mthembu saga could end up in the courts, if the mood from both camps is anything to go by.

Pirates are said to be very unhappy about the latest dispute.

Serious issues affecting the two clubs often revolve around players who have been recruited by one team but end up joining the opposition.

Past events involve players like Steve Crowley, Cyril Nzama, Collins Mbesuma, David Obua, Arthur Zwane and Scara Ngobese.