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Sandawana’s VPL status uncertain: Nkone

 

SANDAWANA management released a shocking statement on Wednesday saying that coach Sarno has resigned with immediate effect while the team training sessions have been put on hold by club president, Thato Nkone, after he fell out with the American coach.

“Coach Sarno has resigned from his post as Sandawana head coach position with immediate effect. Club president has halted all training sessions and team activities until further notice. Status for 2017-18 Vodacom Premier League is uncertain,” reads part of the statement.

Sarno was only recently appointed head coach following the departure of the Spaniard, Antonio Jesus Flores, who resigned last month to become Lioli’s technical director. He joined the club in January this year as assistant to Flores.

Sunday Express (SE) sports reporter, Moorosi Tsiane, sought clarification on the matter and below are excerpts of the interview he had with Nkone on this and other issues pertaining to running the club.

SE: It looks like the team is really going through a rough patch Ntate and this is the second time in two months you are threating to dismantle it.

Nkone: Too many things are happening at this team and truly speaking it is beginning to drain me financially because I have too many commitments and I can’t always be around to see what happens day in, day out.

SE: Last time you wanted nothing to do with the team citing players’ ill-discipline and non-commitment as major reasons. Is that still the case?

Nkone: Not really but it looks like every time we try to sort some issues others arise. We had a fallout with the coach on Saturday during the team meeting with players, technical team and management.

The purpose of the meeting was to resolve our troubles and that was when the coach lashed out at me saying I owe him.

I even told them that they should scout players from everywhere and even if their teams demand want M150 000 I would pay.

SE: Was the coach right?

Nkone: I was surprised by his claims but at the same time I have not refused to pay him if I owe him. But the problem is that he didn’t fulfill some of his promises because the reason I gave him the job was that he promised to secure sponsors for the team and that was part of the deal unfortunately it never materialised.

So while he was shouting I told the people translating for us because I don’t speak English that they should tell him to calm down so we discuss the matter but he kept on lashing saying I owe him M15 000 for traveling to Lesotho as he arrived last Monday.

SE: So what happened from there?

Nkone: The meeting went on until we reach a mutual understanding. Or let me say I thought we were on the same page until I learned this week that he has been holding secret meetings with some of the players poisoning them saying I owe him.

 

SE: How did you find out?

Nkone: On Tuesday a group of 10 players came to me to tell us that they support him and if I fire him they were not going to perform well. That is what got me angry because I failed to understand how players got involved in all this from the start as this was an administrative issue. So it was clear that he is poisoning them and if they say they are not going to perform under the new coach why should I bother going forward with them?

SE: What is the team’s management committee doing about this?

Nkone: I also blame them because they failed to stand their ground and show these players what is expected of them and I have to do everything.

I am a (traditional) doctor and I don’t have time to focus on running the football team so it looks like players are the one calling the shots because if they are saying they don’t want to work with any coach other than this one then it gets tough for me because I will not allow them to control me.

SE: Now that you have called off the training sessions, where are the players?

Nkone: They are still in Butha-Buthe because I haven’t made the final decision. Only then will we know the way forward.

SE: You bought the status from now defunct Mpharane Celtic four seasons ago and the team has been running without any sponsors. What was your plan and expectations?

Nkone: When I bought this status I wanted to bring positive changes to local football and also create jobs as I pay my players monthly allowances.

The target was to have a team that also make a mark on the continent but it looks like I am stuck in a hole here. The sad part is that I am the sole sponsor and the team requires a lot of my money.

The reason I took the American guy was that he promised to find sponsors but that hasn’t happened. I pay for his accommodation which costs me M3000 per month excluding food and other needs.

SE: You must be spending a fortune. How much does it cost per month to run the team?

Nkone: I spend about M200 000 every month to cover everything from players’ salaries to food and transport. I also pay our technical team and I believe my coach is among the highest earners if not the highest earner.

The last time we played well was two season back under Bob Mafoso but since then we have been battling for survival.

I give people everything they need and I always try to make them happy but there are no results to show for that.

It looks like people are not appreciating my efforts and there is nothing that really binds me to do all these things.

I told these guys to look for players who will help us become a force to reckon with and for a moment I was happy thinking that things were going according to the plan but they just poured cold water on my face.

SE: So what happens now?

Nkone: I think I am still angry now so I might make a decision I will regret later. Last month I said I was dismantling this team but the same players came to ask for forgiveness, so I forgave them but we are back to square one.

I might give this team to someone to run it for a season while I am figure out what to do.

But I think by next week I would have reached a decision.

 

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