In less than a year, Mothusi Cooper has moved from a lucrative deal in Zambia to being clubless. The talented Zebras’ central midfielder had, in January made the rarely trodden journey up north to join the Zambia Super League.
The figures made the former Township Rollers midfielder one of the highest-earning players in the Zambian league. His deal meant he was miles ahead of his counterparts playing in the Botswana league. But just six months into his 24-month contract with the Elite, Cooper handed in a transfer request. Through his agent, Bakang Moipone of Extreme Sports, Cooper accused the club of deceit after failing to receive the promised enormous signing-on fee. After a month-long tussle, the player was unshackled from his agreement after the intervention of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ). Cooper’s move up north always looked like a shipwreck in waiting from the onset. It brought back sharp memories of Dirang Moloi, Phenyo Mongala and Jerome Ramatlhakwana’s move to DRC’s Don Bosco. Like Cooper, the trio was promised handsome salaries, with each pocketing P30,000 monthly. The salary was to increase by five percent each season of the five-year contract. However, 12 months into their contracts, they were more than eager to return home due to the living conditions in the central Africa state.
They, like Cooper, broke tradition by taking their football talents into that part of the continent. For Cooper, it looked like a rosy move at first, the main reason was the player’s wages matched what his peers were earning in South Africa, which has been a haven for local football players over the years. The Zambian league also attracts European scouts better than the local league and Cooper was a thought to have moved an inch closer to European football. However, he was joining a club acclaimed as a big spender but with a history of debts. Lusaka Dynamos’ was reported to be between $700,000 (P7,000,000) to $800,000 (P8,000,000) in the red in 2018.
The club battled with international players on a long list that includes Burkina Faso defender, Ismael Zagre who was owed a $15,000 (P150,000) signing-on fee and Kenyan duo of Duncan Otieno and Musa Mohamed, who complained of not receiving their monthly salaries. Uganda defender Joseph Ochaya, midfielders Fwayo Tembo, Cletus Chama, and striker Chris Mugalu also ditched Dynamos citing failure by the club to honour contractual obligations, all in 2018. In 2019, the international footballers union, FIFPro warned players not to sign for Lusaka Dynamos.
The club was blacklisted alongside local side, Black Forest, Tunisian side Club Africain and Chabab Rif Al Hoceim of Morocco. But two years later, Cooper was promised a hefty pay by a club with an empty pocket. The player did his business on the pitch and helped the club win the Absa Top 8 cup, walking away with the man-of-the-match award in the final. Cooper’s misfortunes match those of another Zebras player, Onkabetse Makgantai who moved to AS Vita in Congo. He returned to Orapa United as his stay was marred by lack of game time.
It is in the South African leagues where local players have managed to stay a while longer. North Africa has been kind with former Zebras skipper, Modiri Marumo enjoying a long stay at the Egyptian side Haras El Hodood. The duo of Tumisang Orebonye and Kabelo Seakanyeng is also having a good time with Olympique de Khouribga in Morocco. They helped the team gain promotion into the elite league last season. Cooper is currently training with BDF XI for match fitness as his representatives continue to assess options. Offers from the Czech Republic, Belgium and Egypt are reportedly on the table.