stars caught moonlighting

A GALAXY of Absa Premiership and National First Division players who take part in tournaments during the festive season break without permission may find themselves in hot water.

Several Premier Soccer League stars, mostly managed by Jazzman Mahlakgane, featured in the Blouberg Municipality Off-Season Tournament in Senwabarwana, Limpopo, on Sunday.

The professional players, who are doing duty for top clubs like Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows and Bidvest Wits, played against a Blouberg Invitational side.

The players include Bafana Bafana players Teko Modise of Pirates and Chiefs' Itumeleng Khune and Simphiwe Tshabalala.

Others included Chiefs skipper Jimmy Tau, defender Punch Masenamela, Wits captain Tefu Mashamaite and Amajita captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele of Swallows.

The remainder of the stars were Katlego Mashego (Pirates), Lucky Khune (Chiefs), Steve Lekoelea and Scara Ngobese (both from United FC), Teboho Mokoena (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Itumeleng Duiker (Dynamos) and Vincent Kobola (Swallows). Clubless Thapelo Liau was also there.

The professional stars were coached by Khabo Zondo, who was assisted by former Bucs forward Albert "Bashin" Mahlangu.

Swallows general manager Sipho Xulu said it was news to him that two of their senior players featured in the tournament.

"I was not with the club on the last day (before the festive break) and as a result I do not know if they were given permission to compete in this tournament.

"I will investigate because procedurally permission had to be granted before players can participate in any event where the club is not involved," Xulu said yesterday.

Pirates spokesperson Mickey Modisane also promised to investigate the matter, saying they were not aware of the tournament.

"According to the club's policy, no player can play in any of the festive season tournaments that are not sanctioned by the club.

"As the club, we need to be informed about the issue and the club chairperson (Irvin Khoza) should also be notified. We believe the players should rest during the off-season to avoid unnecessary injuries."

Amakhosi spokesperson Thebe Mohatle said he knew nothing about the tournament and could not comment.

But United's manager Richard Makhoba said they allowed players to take part in the tournaments to keep fit.

Mahlakgane would not confirm if he got permission from the affected teams to field their players in the tournament, but spoke about the success of the event. "We went there after we were invited by the Blouberg municipality. We conducted soccer clinics and also visited patients at the local hospital.

"I'm proud that we gave the people from Senwabarwana and surrounding villages a rare opportunity to rub shoulders with their heroes.

"They should not only see them on TV. I will come down there if they invite us next year," Mahlakgane said.

Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Happy Jele and Mandla Masango competed in the final of the Innocent Mdledle Christmas Charity Tournament in Witbank at the weekend.