Cape Town – Santos star players had to train barefoot this week after four aluminium trunks containing the team’s football boots and kit didn’t make it on to their Mango flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town on Sunday.
Santos boarded a flight to Johannesburg last Friday ahead of their match against Baroka FC the next day at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. However, after suffering their first defeat in the National First Division this season, the Cape side returned home on Sunday without the boots of the 18 players who were part of the match-day squad.
Most players travel with more than one pair of boots for away matches so that they can adapt to the conditions. Veteran defender Nasief Morris travelled with six pairs of boots valued between R2 000 and R3 000 per pair.
Santos’s chief operations officer and former star defender, Edries Burton, has studied the videos of the airline’s staff unloading the cargo out of the aircraft, but the trunks were not on the flight.
Santos’s owner and chairman Goolam Allie told the Cape Times on Wednesday he may have to buy new boots for the players ahead of
Saturday’s home match against Witbank Spurs.
“This is almost worse than losing our first match of the season, but luckily this didn’t happen on our way to the match,” Allie said on Wednesday night.
“Many of our players couldn’t train properly because they didn’t have boots, while some had to practise in old boots.
“This is unacceptable, and Mango needs to compensate us if we don’t get our kit back.”
Allie said the issue is a massive disruption ahead of Saturday’s match and Wednesday’s crucial Nedbank Cup qualifier against Chippa United.
“Our bags have been missing since Sunday afternoon, and Mango haven’t apologised to us for the inconvenience. They also seem to be avoiding us,” Allie said.
Hein Kaiser, spokesman for Mango, said they are investigating the matter.
“Unfortunately there were baggage items belonging to members of the Santos football team that went astray on a flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town earlier this week,” Kaiser said via e-mail.