Johannesburg – Former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena is on the verge of signing for Bidvest Wits.
Recently-appointed Wits CEO Jose Ferreira said on Saturday the signings of experienced players like Mokoena would help the team eliminate the flaws that had undone their promising starts to previous Premiership seasons.
“Wits have a tradition for producing outstanding young talent from one of the best, if not the best development programmes in the country,” said Ferreira, who joined Wits early in June after long associations with Pretoria-based clubs Sundowns and SuperSport United.
“But, after starting recent seasons with a bang and forging to a challenging position in the league, the team has failed to sustain the momentum and undergone disturbing slumps towards the end of the PSL programme.”
Already in harness are prominent new signings Matthew Pattison, the former Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder, and long-time Kaizer Chiefs and Zimbabwe midfield kingpin Tinashe Nengomasha.
Ferreira said Mokoena, who captained South Africa in the 2010
World Cup and remained on the books of English club Portsmouth, had already agreed on terms with the Milpark club.
“The hitch is that Mokoena still has a year to go on his contract with Portsmouth, who have gone into liquidation,” Ferreira said.
“Portsmouth are quite happy to release Mokoena now, but they are bickering to pay him out the money he would be entitled to receive if he remained with the club for another season.”
Ferreira, however, believed that some form of compromise would be agreed upon and that a deal was imminent.
If Mokoena does sign for Wits, the club will be in the unique position of fielding two former Bafana captains as a centre-back combination, with former national skipper and Tottenham Hotspur player “OJ” Mabizela having made an impressive comeback with the Students during the past season.
Ferreira denied reports that Wits were negotiating the dramatic capture of former Manchester City star and Zimbabwe captain Benjani Mwaruwari, who had intimated he would like to return to South African soccer.
“At this stage, we are not talking to Mwaruwari or his agent,” said Ferreira – but the Wits CEO did not rule out the prospect of “something materialising in the future.”
Other good news for Wits is that top-scoring prospect Ryan Chapman, who missed almost half of last season with a serious leg injury, is fit to resume playing and should be ready by the start of the new season. – Sapa