An en masse departure of players from the Komani-based soccer team, Amavarara, threatens to derail their season before the first ball is even kicked.
Salary disputes are at the heart of the disagreements between chairman, Lusapho Mzwakali and six former senior players. This month, the raft of experienced players departed after he signed clearance forms releasing them.
“Amavarara has never waivered on its philosophy. We are a team founded on the development of young players from this region and that will not change,” said Mzwakali, who was bullish about the exodus.
“Wage and organisational demands are what has given rise to the recent problems. Some people found us along the way and assumed they could change us into what they wanted. We give people the opportunity to showcase their talent and if they feel they want more, they are free to go,” added Mzwakali.
The most high profile departure will surely be that of Thandolwethu Dayimane from Ilinge, the defender who joined the team from the now-liquidated Tornado FC.
Khanya Mini, who shone in a 2018 Nedbank Cup match for his former team, Eastern Cape Bees, against PSL heavyweights Sundowns, is also gone. He will now be with their competition, playing for the Bizana team, Spear of the Nation.
The professionalism and experience of Sihle Maso, who was in the NFD with Mthatha Bucks, will also be missed as he has headed to the Lesotho Premier League.
Kakalethu Velaphi, Sifiso Tyala and Lingelihle Mambeshu also got clearance.
“All the players who have been with us since Local Football Association (LFA) competitions were around, they remain the core of Amavarara. When we first played our matches in the ABC Motsepe League none of those players were there. We are not a club dependent on individuals. There are many Amavarara,” said Mzwakali.
Aiding Amavarara, however, will be another shake-up by Safa Eastern Cape. This year the league will have two streams- Inland and Coast, dividing the 20 teams into 10 per stream. This will surely assist Amavarara that will have less traveling and fewer matches before playoffs.