Gallants’ Libya misadventure resolved 

Marumo Gallants learnt the hard way that Africa ain’t for sissies. The chaos that has enveloped Gallants, the new kids on the block who bought the PSL status of Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila in the 2020/21 season, is enough to leave one gasping for air.  

This is their third season in the paid ranks of SA diski and sadly, they continue to make the headlines for the wrong reasons.  

Quiet frankly, Gallants’ owner Ditonkana Abram Sello seems to be struggling in running the affairs of the club. Bahlabane Ba Ntwa were anchoring the DStv Premiership at the bottom with a mere 23 points from 24 rounds of matches. At the rate they are going, they are the favourites for automatic relegation. The seemingly cash-strapped club is also on the verge of relocating to Bloemfontein to cash in with the gate-takings after identifying the Free State as a goldmine.  

But what takes the cake is the manner in which Gallants are still entangled in a pay dispute with a Libyan hotel owner who held their two officials Rufus Matsena and Tebogo Dhlomo as collateral in a Benghazi hotel until yesterday. 

Matsena and Dhlomo were held captive at the Al Fakhama hotel suites by owner Dr Ali Al-Zargha for more than two weeks. They had travelled with the club for their Caf Confederations Cup group stage match against Libyan club Al Akhdar. They are now on their way back home after they were released. But the hotel boss is still adamant that Gallants owe him in the region of R700 000 for assisting the club during its stay.  

Even after releasing the duo, Al-Zargha still wants all his money. Gallants paid 50% to the hotel on Friday. They will pay the rest later this week.  

 The SA ambassador to Tunisia Siphosezwe Masango and Dirco put up a good fight to get the two club officials freed.  

Dirco chaired a mediation on Thursday which was attended by the hotel owner, Safa officials, Matsena, Dhlomo and Masango. 

Throughout, Sello had not availed himself to provide clarity, except disputing the hotel amount and saying that the figures have been inflated.  

Insiders have revealed that the hotel owner is taking chances and has ballooned the debt to unacceptable levels.  

It is claimed that the airline tickets for the return trip cost $380 for each player but Al Zargha is demanding $1 100 for each ticket because there was an agent fee involved. Clearly, involving an agent is not Gallants’ problem and that is why Sello is sticking to his guns and saying “NO”.  

PSL clubs have been travelling on the African continent for Caf competitions for decades now and such despicable dealings are a common thing, especially when the club is from South Africa – they are always looking for a quick buck. Sello’s club should have prepared better for the Caf trip and have had contingency plans for all extra and unforeseen costs.  

But as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and credit must go the club for their impressive Caf campaign.  

Against all expectation, they managed to sneak through to the Last 8 unnoticed. For this feat, they are now guaranteed $350 000 (R6.3-million) from Caf – maybe they can use this cash injection to get their house in order. 

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