Likhopo team manager, Qamako Mahao, says national team striker Thapelo Tale would be “severely punished” for training with Bantu while he still has a contract with the Red Army.
Mahao has also lashed out at Bantu officials for allowing the national team hitman to, not only train with them but also feature for A Matšo Matebele in a friendly match against the national under-20 side at Setsoto Stadium on Wednesday.
An extremely annoyed Mahao insisted Bantu had now made it “a habit” of taking Likhopo players without consulting the team’s management first and further said it was time to put a stop to this “lawlessness”.
“This is now getting too far and it’s time we put a stop to it. Tale is still our player; he is still on our payroll and obviously he is not supposed to be training with any other team, let alone feature in any other side’s friendlies.
“We found ourselves in the same situation with Bantu last season over Sepiriti Malefane, who like Tale, was claiming he was a free agent. Bantu ended up sending one of their committee members to us claiming he was Malefane’s lawyer and also saying the player had signed the contract with us while he was under-age, and therefore, the contract was invalid. Two months into the season, we ended up releasing the player because we felt our relationship with him had broken down so badly we could not work together anymore,” Mahao fumed on Thursday.
Mahao further said it appeared Bantu officials had not learnt “anything” despite being in the premier league for the past five years.
“This is total lawlessness by Bantu and mischief from Tale. It appears this team has not learnt anything from their five years in the premier league especially when it comes to player-development and contracts. I mean, I don’t understand how a premier league team can allow a player from another club to train with them without verifying his status. These gentlemen have not learnt anything about football and its regulations but we are going to put a stop to their habit of poaching our players, and not bothering to develop their own players.”
Mahao further said Tale would be severely punished for his actions while the team was also preparing to take legal action against Bantu.
“We are going to make sure Tale is suspended for at least six months and the sad part is this is going to affect his selection for the national team because he won’t be able to play for Likuena once we take this action. As we speak, (Friday) I am with our team’s lawyer and starting legal processes against Bantu,” said Mahao.
According to Mahao, the problem was mostly with club officials who should know better.
“There are certain players we are keeping an eye on, but we understand the rules which say we have to speak to their team officials first. For instance, there was a player from LCS who wanted to join us saying he was a free agent but we demanded proof first before we could take him,” Mahao said, adding Likhopo would not stand in the way of any player who might want to leave the club.
“We can’t stop players from leaving us, but it has to be according to the rules governing football and not any other way.”
Mahao further explained goalkeeper Kananelo Makhooane had informed the club that he wanted to join Lioli and Likhopo were still waiting for Tse Nala officials to approach them and start negotiations for his release.
“What is not going to happen is letting our players leave just like that. Kananelo has told us he wants to join Lioli and we understand his wish and appreciate that he told us first before taking matters into his own hands. However, until now, we have not heard anything from Lioli but we are still open to negotiations if they do really need the player.”
On his part, Bantu team manager, Mosito Matela, confirmed Tale has been training with them and his issue would be discussed with Likhopo officials this week.
“Tale has been training with us and yes, he played for Bantu on Wednesday but he is not yet our player. He came to us and said he was now out of contract so we couldn’t say no since he was the one who approached us. Remember we are talking about a national team striker here and every club would want to have him. We have been busy preparing for this weekend’s tournament but hopefully, this coming week, Tale’s issue is going to be resolved,” said Matela.
“However, if a player claims to be a free agent and says he wants to join us, we can’t refuse to give him a chance. If he is still contracted with Likhopo, we will see what that contract says. We can’t be held responsible if a player fails to honour his contract.”