Kaizer Chiefs have won the race to sign Bafana Bafana defender Mulomowandau Mathoho from Bloemfontein Celtic, The Star can reveal.
It is understood that Mathoho penned a three-year agreement with Amakhosi after rejecting Celtic’s plans to sell him to Mamelodi Sundowns.
“The deal is done – he’s our player,” a Chiefs insider, who would not be named because the parties plan to release a joint statement on the matter, said on Thursday.
Celtic chief executive Khumbulani Konco confirmed Mathoho had written a letter to the club saying he preferred to sign with Chiefs rather than Sundowns, even though Phunya Sele Sele had reached an agreement with the Chloorkop side.
Sundowns were to give Celtic R3 million plus two players – Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Buhle Mkhwanazi – to acquire Mathoho’s services, but apparently one of the players hadn’t been consulted and thus rejected the move to Bloemfontein, rendering the agreement invalid.
“We did receive a letter from Mathoho whereby he indicated he wanted to join Chiefs. But we have been talking to both clubs (Chiefs and Sundowns). We spoke to Bobby (Motaung) this week and there’s some progress,” Konco said.
Motaung, the Amakhosi team manager, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
“It is true that we wanted two players from Sundowns,’’ Konco said. “The fact is we have to replace Mathoho, but we are not under pressure to sell now because he still has two years left on his contract. We hope to finalise this matter as soon as possible.”
It is understood that after losing out to Sundowns on Edward Manqele, the Free State Stars striker, Chiefs clinched the Mathoho deal, taking advantage of the fact that Naturena is the player’s preferred destination.
Mathoho’s manager, Tim Sukazi, confirmed that the defender, nicknamed Tower, would leave Bloemfontein only for Amakhosi.
“We learnt with shock that Sundowns officials were camping outside the house of Mathoho’s parents in Venda, trying to convince them to sway him to their stable.
‘‘The boy wants to play for Chiefs. He told Celtic expressly that he won’t go to Sundowns. I’m confident they will grant him his wish because surely nobody would want a disgruntled player in their camp,” Sukazi said.
Mathoho, 22, won his third international cap in Bafana’s 3-0 victory over Gabon last Friday, forming an impregnable defensive partnership with Morgan Gould, who has also signed for Chiefs.
Sundowns said on Thursday that they had clinched a three-year deal with Manqele, the Stars striker, who scored 11 league goals last season.
“I’m looking forward to playing for Sundowns especially because they have brilliant players like Katlego Mphela, Teko Modise and company,” the player told the Sundowns website.
Manqele had been destined to join Chiefs, but the lure of financial rewards at Sundowns won him over. Apparently he was earning R12 000 a month at Stars, and will now pocket R90 000 a month at Chloorkop.
*Follow Matshe on twitter on @Nkareng