Snubbing the player to spite the face

The move by Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Polokwane City to sideline their lead striker, Rodney Ramagalela, after he signed a pre-contract with Highlands Park seems to haunt them instead of rewarding them.

City were hammered 3-1 by struggling Maritzburg United in an Absa Premiership match at Harry Gwala Stadium, a match preceded by a 3-3 draw against Bidvest Wits at Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Ramagalela was last season’s top goal scorer, with 13 goals, and City’s all-time leading scorer.

Fifa rules stipulate that with six months or less remaining on a contract, players can hold contract talks with other clubs and sign pre-contract agreements, declaring their wish to move when the next transfer window opens.

Ramagalela’s apparent snub by City comes after he turned down a new deal with the club, so he is now facing the prospect of spending the remainder of the season as a spectator. But this could dash City’s ambitions of ending the season in the top- eight bracket.

Rise and Shine occupy the eighth spot on the PSL table with 27 points, just two above ninth-placed Highlands Park and four above 10th-placed Golden Arrows.

Their standing is tenuous and the team’s failure to collect maximum points against Wits and Maritzburg respectively, while Ramagalela kept watch from the stands, could further hurt them in their remaining 12 games.

“I think it’s up to them [City] whether they use me or not, but I will be ready whenever they need me,” Ramagalela said.

Being rebuffed is not a new trend. In 2008, Cosmos boss Jomo Sono sent Liberian striker Anthony Laffor to train with the under-19s after he showed an interest in joining Supersport United.

Ramagalela has been snubbed even though he explained to the club that his decision to leave City was influenced solely by a desperate need to be closer to his family in Johannesburg.

“Sometimes people need to understand [that] we are also working for our families. There was an opportunity for me to stay with my family in Jo’burg so I took the opportunity. It’s not about something else; it’s about my family,” he explained.

Ramagalela first made a move to Johannesburg from Limpopo after signing with Mamelodi Sundowns from Black Leopards in 2012, before joining Arrows in Durban on loan.

City is not the only top-flight club that snubs players after signing pre-contracts with other sides. Leopards sidelined their captain, Marks Munyai, and central midfielder Phathutshedzo Nage in the back-to-back defeats against Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic respectively.

Regarded as the club’s most influential players, Munyai and Nage signed pre-contracts with Highlands Park and Bidvest Wits.

Despite the back-to-back 3-0 losses, Leopards coach Dylan Kerr stands by his decision, hinting that the two players were still in his “plans”.

“I don’t judge players on anything but merit, performance, body language, behaviour, mental state, how they live on and off the field. I also judge them on their integrity as an individual and with the team. Honesty and transparency are important to me and, in the present day, whilst I don’t condemn anyone for wanting a better life or career, it has to be done the right way,” said the British mentor.

He said Nage’s sidelining has little to do with his departure, but that the player should “be patient”.

He said of Munyai: “He’s always in my plans but I saw in training that he wasn’t the same player that I’ve seen in the time that I’ve been here.”

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Siyabonga Ngcangisa
Siyabonga Ngcangisa
Siya co-presented at South Africa’s third largest radio station Umhlobo Wenene FM and has worked for publications such as Move! Magazine and DRUM Magzine.

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