Why David Thidiela intends to keep a promise he made to his Black Leopards players

Black Leopards ownder and chairman David Thidiela celebrate with the fans in the stands after his team won promotion to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) at Thohoyandou Stadium on May 30 2018.
Black Leopards ownder and chairman David Thidiela celebrate with the fans in the stands after his team won promotion to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) at Thohoyandou Stadium on May 30 2018.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Black Leopards are set to announce several new signings later on Wednesday‚ but owner David Thidiela says he will keep his promise to the players that won promotion from the National First Division for this coming season.

“I made a promise to the players when we won promotion that I would give them a chance to play in the Premier League‚” Thidiela tells SowetanLIVE.

“I won’t go back on that promise‚ the core of the squad for the coming season will be the same as we had in the NFD.

“These are the boys that got us into the top-flight and they deserve to be rewarded for that.

"I cannot go to them and say‚ ‘thank-you for helping us get promoted‚ now good-bye’. That would not be right.”

Leopards have seen striker Meshack Maphangule leave for Orlando Pirates‚ but Thidiela insists no-one else will be exiting the side.

“Everybody else is staying‚” he says.

“It is a shame that Maphangule chose to leave‚ but for us it is not a big deal. He only played in about half [18] of our 30 league games last season‚ so it showed that we relied heavily on other players.

“He has made his choice and good luck to him‚ we wish him all the best at Pirates.”

The likes of experienced DR Congo midfielder Jean Munganga‚ who was with Leopards in their last top-flight season in 2012/13‚ Marks Munyai‚ Zambian forward Mwape Musonda‚ who played in the Premier League with Orlando Pirates and Lamontville Golden Arrows‚ and Phathutshedzo Nange all featured prominently for Leopards last season.

Leopards finished second in the NFD last season‚ behind runaway leaders Highlands Park‚ and won promotion through the play-offs as they defeated top-flight Platinum Stars and fellow second-tier side Jomo Cosmos.

The outcome of those play-offs are now in dispute as the court battle between Ajax Cape Town and the PSL continues‚ but Thidiela previously told SowetanLIVE he is unconcerned and is preparing for a season in the top-flight.

“It is a matter between the PSL and Ajax Cape Town and has nothing to do with Black Leopards‚” he says.

“It is for the PSL to sort out the issue and bring it to a conclusion‚ but we are continuing to prepare for the Absa Premiership this coming season.

"That is all I will say on the matter.”

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