Selling Maema, Ngobeni could backfire on Celtic

Club banned from signing players until next July

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Kearyn Baccus of Kaizer Chiefs and Sifiso Ngobeni of Bloemfontein Celtic during the Absa Premiership match between Kazier Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Kearyn Baccus of Kaizer Chiefs and Sifiso Ngobeni of Bloemfontein Celtic during the Absa Premiership match between Kazier Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Image: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

In the face of their two window transfer ban, it’ll be interesting to see how Bloemfontein Celtic circumvent the possibility of struggling in the 2021/22 campaign.

Fifa banned Celtic from signing new players until July 2022. The punishment came after Phunya Sele Sele failed to settle the R3m debt they owe to their former goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.

Celtic is the second Premier Soccer League (PSL) club to find themselves at the receiving end of this inimical two-window transfer sanction. Kaizer Chiefs endured similar misery last season after Fifa ruled they breached rules when they signed Malagasy player Andriamirado Andrianarimanana.

The ban had drastic ramifications on Amakhosi’s domestic campaign as at times they flirted with relegation, only for them to eventually earn position eight by winning their last two games.

Celtic’s financial woes are well-documented, and selling their best players could alleviate their pecuniary crisis, but again to sell amid the transfer ban means they are really caught between a rock and a hard place. Phunya Sele Sele have just cashed in on two of their best players in left-winger Neo Maema and left-back Sifiso Ngobeni. The duo were sold to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Jimmy Augousti, the man who sold Celtic to the current owner Max Tshabalala in 2014, reckons Celtic should have held on to Maema and Ngobeni amid the ban.

“The quality of the squad is obviously going to go down without Maela and Ngobeni, especially that they can’t be replaced because of the ban. It’s not a good situation,’’ Augousti told Sowetan yesterday.

“They should have kept those boys and build the team using development players around the two of them. But with Covid-19 and all the financial pressures, maybe they had no other options but to sell them.’’

Celtic have already extended the contracts of a few senior players, including skipper Ndumiso Mabena, Menzi Masuku and Harris Tchilimbou.

Augousti has commended the club for tying down these veterans. The erstwhile club owner, however, sounded skeptical about promoting players from development to strengthen the squad in the face of this ban. “I think it was a good move to tie down some of the existing players that they have... that was one of the only options available.

"It’s either that or promote players from the development team. But the big question is, are those players [from development] going to be of PSL standards? That can backfire,’’ Augousti stated.

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