JOHANNESBURG – Jomo Cosmos’ chairman-coach Jomo Sono admits that his rushed transfer deals nearly cost his team’s status in the second-tier last term, assuring they’ll be championship material in the GladAfrica Championship after adequate preparations this season.
Sono found himself in a compromising position when he had to ship out a bulk of his players due to financial challenges at the beginning of last season. In assembling the new team, the “Black Prince” was forced into starting from scratch, finding the going hard as they finished 13th in the log - two positions above the drop zone to the third-tier.
However, having saved their status by the skin of their teeth, Sono believes they’ll be forces to be reckoned with in the GladAfrica Championship - the old National First Division.
“We were expecting what happened last season because if you look at when the league started, we lost about 30 players,” Sono stated. “So right away, I had to promote a lot of young kids from the academy and I had to look for players. And when I was looking for players, (despite) the eye I have, I picked up few wrong ones because I was in the rush and I wanted to protect the team from getting relegated.
But in my opinion when I looked at them now ... they were not good for this team. But now, I’ve had time (to plan and scout). We’ve promoted our entire Under-23 team that recently won a trophy in Spain, blended them with some of the senior guys.”
No team knows the ins-and-outs of the second-tier like Ezenkosi, with all the financial difficulties that come with playing in the lower league. However, there’s a breath of life as the GladAfrica sponsorship will see the league’s champions and outright promoted team to the Premiership bag a whooping cheque of R3-million, while the runners-up and third-placed finishers will scoop R1,5m and R1m respectively.
Moreover, this breath-taking deal includes the selling of broadcasting rights to SuperSport, who’ll begin their partnership with GladAfrica with the live televised match between last season’s Nedbank Cup last-16 finalists Cosmos and eventual champions TS Galaxy on Sunday at Kameelrivier Stadium (1pm kick-off), the day after the league begins.
“For so many years, the NFD didn’t have a partner and now the corporate world can now come in, and sponsor us on our shirts because we have television. I can assure you the standard will double now in the GladAfrica Championship because you could see that teams like Cosmos defeated (PSL) side Baroka FC in the cup, while Galaxy ended up winning the cup (after defeating Kaizer Chiefs in the final),” Sono explained.
“The standard has been pretty high, just that people were not seeing the games. But now it will be seen because there’s a lot of money involved and teams like Moroka Swallows (who purchased the status of Maccabi) have been born again.”
Meanwhile, Sono, who’s served as the senior national team caretaker coach in multiple stints, has urged the incoming Bafana Bafana coach to select players on merit instead of being influenced by those around him.@Mihlalibaleka