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Devoted Marema happy for return to Premiership

Striker thankful he remained with Polokwane when it relegated

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Siyabonga Dubula of Pretoria Callies and Puleng Marema of Polokwane City during the Motsepe Foundation Championship match between Polokwane City and Pretoria Callies FC at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on May 14, 2023 in Polokwane.
Siyabonga Dubula of Pretoria Callies and Puleng Marema of Polokwane City during the Motsepe Foundation Championship match between Polokwane City and Pretoria Callies FC at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on May 14, 2023 in Polokwane.
Image: Philip Maeta

Normally players’ salaries are slashed by a significant percentage when their teams get relegated but when you are a Puleng Marema you get an increase instead.

Marema, formerly surnamed Tlolane, scored an impressive eight goals and 16 assists to play a crucial role in Polokwane City’s return to the Premiership. The Limpopo side clinched the Motsepe Foundation Championship title on the final day last Sunday.

Marema is the last man standing from Rise and Shine’s relegated class of the 2019/20 season.

The 32-year-old was the a hot property when Polokwane was demoted three seasons ago and a host of teams, including Chippa United, wanted him. The question is, why Marema did opt to go down with Polokwane when there was interest in his services in the Premiership?

“We (he and club chair Johnny Mogaladi) had a long meeting after we were relegated and that’s where he told me how much he loves me. He said he wanted me to captain the team and take it back to the Premiership. Normally when a team is relegated there’s this thing of salary cuts but for me it was different because I got an increase,” Marema told Sowetan yesterday.

“That’s why I stayed. With the money I was getting and still getting here now, I didn’t see why I must leave. The money other teams offered me, I was already getting double of that here. So, I didn’t see a reason to leave because it wasn’t going to make sense for me to be in the Premiership when I am earning less. I have never had financial problems when we were relegated. I am getting everything I want, I am happy here.”

The Polokwane captain is basking in the glory of promotion, feeling it was about time they returned to the elite league. Marema describes the Motsepe Foundation Championship (current commercial name for the National First Division) as a “jungle” because of the second-tier league’s competitiveness.

“I am enjoying this moment. It was long overdue. We tried in the past two years and finally we achieved the goal in the third year. The NFD is a jungle...it’s a very difficult league. It’s not nice to be there. There’s no time to enjoy football there because each and every team fights for promotion,” Marema stated.

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