Team of Choice woes adversely affect local economy

IT is not a big secret that the home team is not doing well at all. Having played a total of 22 games, they have won only 3, lost 11 and drawn 8, leaving them with a measly 17 points on the log. This scenario leaves the team on the verge of being relegated to the amateur league. Should this be the case, it will not only adversely affect the players, coaching staff and the owners of the club but it will also have an adverse impact on the local economy. This was underscored by a Msunduzi Council boss as well as members of the community

Speaking about the club’s woes, Acting City Manager Nelisiwe Ngcobo said that as sponsors of the club, they were very worried about the position at which the club is languishing currently but hoped that it was only temporary. She added that in 2017 they penned a new contract with the Team of Choice, which has a year remaining to run. “As Msunduzi Municipality we provide financial assistance to the club, a home ground, a training ground in the vicinity of the home ground and disaster management services on match day.”

There are always complaints in other cities that world class facilities have become white elephants but with Harry Gwala Stadium, we benefit immensely from the Premier Soccer League matches as the stadium is filled to capacity. According to the PSL format, a team has 15 home games and also an equal number of away games.

Speaking about the possibility of the club being relegated to the lower division and the impact this could have on the local economy, she said: “If the club were to be relegated, this would be a very unfortunate situation as it is one of the pillars with which we market the City, which is why we have not reneged on the assistance we provide to it as we try to find solutions to the challenges that it currently faces. Unlike in 2017 when we even supported them with logistics in order to get supporters to come and support them at the stadium, this time around we are not able to dispense this assistance as our financials currently do not allow us to do so.”

She concluded: “It is important that people are reminded that Msunduzi is the Capital City of the province and therefore when there is a game taking place, the local economy benefits as local accommodation service providers reap the fruits, amongst others.”

Supporters have their say

SUPPORTERS are singing from the same hymn book about the importance of Maritzburg not being relegated, although they also conceded that the club had itself to blame for its dismal performance and hence where it is on the log.

Nelisiwe Zondi, who is a supporter of the club said she did not know what the club was doing differently this season and could also not comment on coach Eric Tinkler as he was relatively new at the club. “What I have noticed is that the club sells its gem players and does not replace the quality that it has lost. The boys play well but luck does not seem to be on their side.”

She said the destiny of the club is in the hands of the players.

She cited the likelihood of the club being relegated, she would continue to support the club unconditionally as there are many clubs that go in and out of National First Division. “As Supporters, we do need to give the players that va-va-voom because what I have realised is that whenever we go out to support them in numbers at the stadium, rarely do we come out having lost.”

Sibongiseni Mjwara said that he sees the players doing well as they always go out there with that winning mentality. He added: “What seems to be the cause of the poor performance is that the club is always keen on putting players up for sale yet rarely do they replace them. A case in point is Philani Zulu who is now doing very well at Kaizer Chiefs, which is our loss.”

He continued by saying that should the club be relegated, this would be a major loss to Msunduzi as it remains one of the biggest drawcards for enjoyment and entertainment in the locality. “The club is not well marketed and I am saying this because its paraphernalia is not readily available through outlets throughout Msunduzi, especially. For a club that is based in Pietermaritzburg we would come out in our colours to show the boys that we fully support them,” said Mjwara.

One reason that makes the club regress, said Mr. Blanket Ngubo, is that they have mastered the art of sourcing talented players but they end up selling them to bigger clubs, which he suspects puts a lot of pressure on the remaining players. “The poor performance by the club is much detrimental to Msunduzi, which then makes us question the owners of the club about their intentions. Rusike left but we have not seen who replaces him. Jomo Cosmos is in the NFD because all Sono does is sell players. We need the owners of the club to do a introspection on why the club is not doing well. In closing, we will continue to support the club, dark or blue.”