The coach of one of Pietermaritzburg’s teams that plies its trade in the third tier ABC Motsepe League within the KwaZulu-Natal Province, Maritzburg City’s Andile “Sguda” Cele said that although they are facing a number of challenges as a club, which includes a lack of a financial muscle to acquire resources, the time is opportune for them to reward the fans that have been loyal in supporting them through thick and thin. Cele nevertheless insists on ensuring that the team does well to bring back the glory days so as to make their die-hard fans happy.
Speaking to our journalist about the history of the club, Cele said the team has been the fertile ground for breeding talent, something that has its own good and bad. The good thing about this is that the players they produce grow and get a change to play for more established teams on bigger stages. On the flip side this becomes counter-productive for the club because as promising players start to gel as a unit, then the very good talent is hand-picked for greener pastures.
Providing insights about his service to the club, Cele said: “I joined Maritzburg City just before the turn of the century in 1999 as a player when we won the ABC Motsepe League, then known as the Vodacom League. We were then promoted to the National First Division, which was known as the MTN League. Here, we played in the biggest club cup, the Bob Save that is now known as the Nedbank Cup and we were eliminated in the quarter finals. The reason why I am painting this picture for you is because I want people to understand what I mean when we say we want to bring back the glory days,” said Cele.
At the end of that season, Cele and Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela were rewarded when they joined the Bucaneers, better known as Orlando Pirates. During the 2010/11 season and under the leadership of Reggie Shelembe as coach, the club almost got relegated but the silver lining in a dark cloud was that Philani Zulu was signed by Maritzburg and later by Kaizer Chiefs.
Cele said he played a pivotal role in getting Zulu where he is today. “Zulu felt he was doing very well but was only recognized in Pietermaritzburg, which made him feel that he should just as well hang up his boots. But because I have a lot of experience in the game of football, I told him to hold his own and persevere, hence he ended up at Maritzburg United and ultimately Kaizer Chiefs during the 2011/12 season, Maritzburg City won the league, only to be pipped during the play-offs in order to qualify for the NFD.
Cele continued to share the teams many dreams and wishes which, he says, cannot be achieved if they do not receive the requisite support,” he explained.
Maritzburg City has produced scores of players who ply their trade in both the NFD and the PSL. These include Patrick Thwala who played for Santos, Thami Mkhize, Nsizwa Myika and Teenage Dladla who are all signed with Lamontville Golden Arrows. Those who are currently active include Sphesihle “Mbesuma” Ndlovu and Njabulo Hlela who play for Maritzburg United.
According to Cele, his coaching staff, which includes Sibusiso Ngcobo who played for Manning Rangers and Mncedisi Ncaba from Amazulu and Arrows respectively, are prepared to take the team to the next level, which is the NFD as well as nurture up and coming talents.
The team also has development teams from ages 11, 13, 15 and 17.