Business Day (Johannesburg)

12 March 2008

South Africa: Boebie Bounces After Black Leopards Banishment

Johannesburg — AFTER his acrimonious dismissal by Black Leopards early this week, Boebie Solomons will bounce back into the coaching ranks almost immediately when he leads lower tier side Winners Park against Wits in the opening game of the Nedbank Cup at Bidvest Stadium tonight.

Solomons was in the middle of negotiations with Winners Park management yesterday and said all the outstanding technicalities around his new engagement would be concluded by last night.

"Yes it is true. I have joined Winners Park and I am now looking forward to facing my former side, Wits," he said.

Solomons revealed that his joining Winners Park did not mean that Leopards were off the hook as he was still pursuing a case of unfair dismissal with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

"I am at peace with myself after leaving Leopards this week. But this fight is far from over and I am still pursuing the matter with the CCMA."

Solomons had a five-year contract with Leopards before he was dismissed because of what the club termed "poor work performance".

In the meantime, Wits will be his immediate foes in this last-32 encounter of the Nedbank Cup that will get the tournament under way.

"This is a cup game and I guess anything is possible," Solomons said. "But our main focus is really on gaining promotion to the top flight at the end of the season. That is the main priority for us."

But as Wits coach Roger de Sa will know, the millions of rands dangled by the super-rich inaugural Nedbank Cup should be enough motivation for David to slay Goliath.

The visitors may claim that progress in this competition is not important, but the reality for all the teams in this competition is that it will only take five games for a club to improve its bank balance by a hefty R6m.

With the cup runners-up in line to earn R2,5m while the losing semifinalists are set to receive R1m each, no club will be happy to exit this tournament in the opening rounds.

And with Nedbank and the Premier Soccer League promising to dangle a host of other incentives in front of the players, Wits c ould be forgiven for dismissing anything Winners Park say as mind games.

Wits spokesman Dennis Tshabalala said the Clever Boys would probably not start with No1 goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs as the Bafana Bafana player was still injured. "Sean Roberts will most likely start in his place against Winners Park," Tshabalala said.

Roberts found himself unexpectedly in the line-up in the league game against leaders Ajax Cape Town after the injury to Josephs last Friday. Even though Ajax eventually won the match 1-0, Roberts acquitted himself very well and his presence in the back should be enough to ensure that De Sa has peace of mind.

In the two league matches being played today, struggling holders Mamelodi Sundowns will be desperate to regain some measure of respectability when they host the tricky Santos at Super Stadium tonight. Santos should fancy their chances after beginning an impressive five-game winning streak last month that has propelled them to fifth place in the standings.

Impressive victories against premiership challengers Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows, Wits, Golden Arrows and Amazulu should be enough to set off the alarm bells at Sundowns.

Sundowns will need to watch dangerous strikers Erwin Isaacs and Eleazar Rodgers.

In the other league match, Bloemfontein Celtic host Platinum Stars at Seisa Ramabodu.

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