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Bright, Sikwane clash over GU players' transfer

MQONDISI DUBE KABELO BORANABI
Olebile Sikwane.PIC: KENNEDY RAMOKONE
Zebras coach, David Bright has reported Gaborone United (GU) general manager, Olebile Sikwane to the Botswana Football Association (BFA) for 'unprofessional conduct'.

This follows the transfer of GU players; Kabelo Seakanyeng and Tumisang Orebonye, to South Africa’s Chippa United. Sikwane engineered the deal as the players’ representatives and Bright accuses him of disrupting the Zebras camp when the deal was concluded during the COSAFA Cup. But Sikwane argues Bright was aware of the pending transfers, and had done nothing to disrupt camp.

Instead, he said there were ‘mercenaries’ bent on hijacking the deal and transfer the players to their preferred club, where they would get kickbacks. “I wanted to protect the players and I had to act swiftly,” Sikwane told Mmegi Sport this week.

Reacting on Bright’s move to report him to the BFA, he said he was ready to avail himself to the mother body. “It is ok (that he has reported to the BFA). But professionals don’t run to the media first and go back to the FA for recourse later.  I will wait for the BFA to communicate the matter with me so that we find common ground. Maybe this could close this matter once and for all,” Sikwane said yesterday.

He said the deals were not concluded at night as alleged. “I had to defend GU after I heard that some people wanted to hijack the deal. I gave the players a future and they are happy with the deal,” Sikwane said.

The players will earn a reported R60,000 with signing on fee in excess of R200,000, in a deal that runs for three years. Cash-strapped GU reportedly received P1.5 million from the players’ transfers. According to Bright, Sikwane ‘sneaked’ into Zebras camp during the COSAFA Cup, to facilitate the duo’s move to Chippa.

“The national team camp needs to be respected. What happened with a local club official showed lack of respect. He sneaked into the camp and had the players sign for Chippa. He even took pictures of the players in the club uniform while we were preparing for our final game

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against South Africa.  That is not professional; a national team needs to be respected. That guy needs to be punished; you cannot mix club problems with the national team,” he said.

 Bright, however, said that Sikwane had informed the Zebras technical team about Chippa’s interest, but bemoaned that the deals could have been completed after the tournament as a number of Zebras players had also attracted interest from South African teams.

“He (Sikwane) called and informed us that Chippa wanted the players, but we refused that he should come to our camp. We did not allow that.  I mean we had the whole of Saturday, they could have used the (free) day to complete the deals.”

Bright further said the move disrupted the mood in the camp, even the Zebras technical team mulled over expelling the duo from the camp.  “I wanted to chase those players away. This is the reason why I did not play Kgamanyane (against South Africa) and with Seakanyeng you could see that he was avoiding contact in the match.  If a key player like him plays like that, it affects the performance of the whole team,” he said.

The Zebras coach denied allegations that he wanted to sell the players to another PSL side. “I did not have interest in selling the players and getting a ‘cut’. I am a coach, I can only recommend to the teams when they come to me for advice.  There is nothing like that those are just allegations,” he said.

 BFA spokesperson, Tumo Mpatane confirmed that Bright has reported the matter to the association and it was handled internally.  “The coach has put if forward to the BFA. The issue is currently with the Legal and Compliance office. The GU official is an intermediary and should be guided by ethics. We are talking about the national team here, which is a serious national brand so it should be respected as such,” Mpatane said.



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