Marumo Gallants shoot themselves in the foot by unsettling their players

Celimpilo Ngema holds his head in his hands.

Celimpilo Ngema reacts with disappointment as Marumo Gallants are relegated. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published May 23, 2023


Cape Town — Marumo Gallants have shot themselves in the foot by unsettling their persevering players ahead of important matches.

Given their monetary constraints, Gallants don't have a big squad in which players can be rotated. To add insult to injury, several players picked up injuries and suspensions at the business end of the season.

Their players had worked their socks off playing in two competitions which were running parallel over the past few weeks. Apart from playing around the country in the domestic league, Gallants played on the continent in the CAF Confederation Cup competition. Their fixtures took them to Madagascar, Libya, Zambia, Algeria, Egypt and Tanzania.

The club's glaring lack of basic organization saw their team stranded in Türkiye after Gallants had not booked tickets for connecting flights to Libya. There was also a problem of four players who could not pass through Istanbul due to flight complications, and the team was hopelessly short of players on the bench subsequently.

The team also arrived without kit in Libya.

Out of desperation, Gallants chairperson Abram Sello then called in help from a 'Good Samaritan' who was based in Libya. He was businessman Dr Ali Elzargha, also a hotel owner in Benghazi, where the team was based in Libya. According to Elzargha, he had helped Gallants before.

Thanks to Elzargha's help, Gallants were able to fulfil their fixture but then did not have the money to pay the bill and repay Elzargha for the debts he ran up on behalf of the club.

Sello promised to secure the money to repay Elzargha but in the meantime, club officials Dina Dhlomo and Rufus Matsena would stay behind as collateral.

The two poor officials suffered a nightmare being held in Libya for three weeks and there was little support from Sello who said: "It was not a train smash."

As a result of Gallants' hopelessness, politicians, embassy officials and Safa personnel stepped in to help resolve the matter, and the two officials duly returned to South Africa.

Last week a football website reported that players were reluctant to train because Gallants had not paid out bonuses owed to them. They allegedly refused to get into the bus scheduled to take them to their afternoon training session.

In April there were also reports that Gallants players did not receive payments.

Despite the website reports, Gallants declared that there are no outstanding bonuses owed to any Gallants players in a statement.

This was a hectic time for Gallants and the management should have kept the players happy by giving them what was agreed upon. In May alone Gallants had matches on the third (Maritzburg), sixth (Sundowns), 10th (Young Africans), 17th (Young Africans) and 20th (Swallows).

In their last three matches, Gallants suffered defeat, including at the hands of lowly Swallows, who spent most of the season in the relegation zone.

The costliest defeat of the three was the last one against Swallows because it cost the club its DStv Premiership status.

Let's hope Gallants will spend the year in National First Division learning how to run a club and execute basic duties like booking flights and meeting their obligations to their players - the club's most valuable assets!


IOL Sport