Well-travelled coach Owen Da Gama has officially part ways with Limpopo Motsepe Foundation Championship side Black Leopards.

LimSportsZone has learnt that Da Gama was shown the door following the clubs’ relegation to the SAFA ABC Motsepe League. Leopards were relegated this past weekend after 24 years of plying their trade in the PSL set-up.

Lidoda Duvha were relegated alongside their fellow Limpopo side Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM). TTM had already moved to Mangaung after a fallout with the Thulamela Municipality. This was due to the exorbitant fees an NFD side has to pay to host matches at the venue.

It currently costs around R 45 000 to host a match at the Thohoyandou Stadium.

Also read: Black Leopards and Ntshangase officially part ways

Meanwhile, Owen Da Gama leaves Leopards after his attempts to save the club from relegation were unsuccessful.

He took charge of the club in February this year following the departure of Johnny Ferreira. The club has had over four coaches this season from Joel Masutha, Rodwell Dhlakama, Ferreira and Da Gama.

Limpopo side Black Leopards and Owen Da Gama part ways
Black Leopards owner David Thidiela leaves the Stadium after his team got relegated

This publication has also been made to understand that there will be a clear-out of players before the last two matches of the season.

PLAYERS EXCODUS EXPECTED AT LIMPOPO CLUB

Players such as Tiklas Thutlwa, Jackson Mabokgwane and Kenneth Nethatheni could soon find themselves without a team. A little birdy has informed this publication that the management has not been impressed with their performances.

Although the club has now been relegated, they will need to play two of their remaining matches of the season. This includes a match against their former coach Joel Masutha who is at Venda Football Academy. Leopards will also play against All Stars. Ironically, All Stars are in their last season in the Motsepe Foundation Championship.

This is after the club announced their intentions to sell their status.

By Khotso Ramalwatsa

Black Leopards coach Owen Da Gama bemoaned his side’s wasteful finishing in front of goal as they lost 1-0 to Baroka in the Limpopo derby on Sunday at the Global Stadium.

According to the coach, the relegation-threatened team looked set to better their position on the Motsepe Foundation Championship table. But unfortunately, his players were unlucky to capitalize on their clear chances on the day.

Leopards squandered a host of glorious opportunities that could have won the derby and eventually, Bakgakga netted an only match goal, thanks to Sydney Malivha’s second half strike.

OWEN DA GAMA UNHAPPY WITH WASTEFUL FINISHING

The well-traveled coach was a bit of a disappointed man with his side’s profligacy and he lamented those missed chances that could have probably made a huge difference.

“They (players) have got to understand the created chances which is important, if we could have taken one or two of those chances, we would be speaking a different language now,” Da Gama told journalists.

Owen Da Gama laments Leopards' wasteful finishing
Black Leopards against Baroka in a Motsepe Foundation Championship

“We played well against Casric Stars, we played well against Magesi. It’s getting better, but we couldn’t use our chances. But I think they have to take every game as a cup final from now on, every game is a cup final.

“The technical team is doing its best to get the best out of the players. The players are fighting, they are working very hard, but if you are unlucky with your chances, then it’s difficult.”

BLACK LEOPARDS WILL KEEP FIGHTING

The former Orlando Pirates coach has issued a stirring rallying cry as the season approaches its ending mark, insisting Lidoda Duvha will fight until the last day to stay in the Motsepe Foundation Championship.

“The games are getting fewer now, there are only 15 points to play at this moment and there is no one easy game in the NFD, it’s not easy,” Da Gama added.

“But we’ll keep on fighting, it’s encouraging when you create chances. It’s rather unfortunate for us, but we will keep on fighting as long as we can understand our limitations and strength. That’s very, very important.

“We have to keep soldiering on, It’s not over until it’s over, as simple as that, as long as players can show character.”

Leopards are at the bottom of the log with 18 points, with only five games to go. Their next assessment is 15th placed Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila. It will be 15th versus 16th when the two sides show off at the Malamulele Stadium on Sunday, 09 April. 

By Caliton Mabasa

Languishing at the bottom of the Motsepe Foundation Championship, Black leopards are relegation bound, writes Khathu Mafadza.

This time around I don’t really foresee them surviving the well grinded axe.

Lidoda Duvha as they are affectionately known in the football circles have not been convincing at all this season. They have already played 21 league games registering only two wins.

I’m talking about a soccer team which at some stage were pronounced as giant killers during their heydays in the PSL

ALSO READ: Black Leopards complete the signing of Siphelele Ntshangase

Club Chairman Mr David Thidiela doesn’t seem to have the interest of his own club at heart. Recently he has been taking drastic decisions. The only person who can save them out of this misery is Joel Muporofita Masutha, unfortunately he is  currently committed to Venda Football Academy.

Last season they survived relegation after finding themselves in the similar position. Come the end of the season Lidoda Duvha will be participating in the ABC Motsepe league.

MALAMULELE MOVE NOT WORKING OUT?

Following their relocation to Malamulele Stadium away from their slaughter house Thohoyandou, Leopards have been performing poorly in front of minimal supporters.

They really enjoyed large support coming from all the  corners of the Vhembe District, this was precisely because of the Thohoyandou Stadium which is located in the center and it’s easily accessible by all.

ALSO READ: Leopards appoint Owen Da Gama as head coach

This club commands a huge history. It will be a very painful scenario for the people of Limpopo. Particularly those in the Vhembe region if they were to be relegated.

BLACK LEOPARDS HAVE PRODUCED QUALITY PLAYERS IN THE PAST

Some of the big named players to have played for Lidoda duvha include the striking duo of Mulondo Sikhwivhilu and Rudzani Ramudzuli. Th both went on to play for Orlando Pirates. Others are Christopher Netshidzivhe who many will remember as the free kick-specialist, the likes of captain fantastic Wanani Mulaudzi, lengthy striker Coxwell Ratshivhadelo, Vusi Kharivhe, Malawian national Robert Nga’mbi and many more.

During their prime time they even reached the Nedbank Cup finals, let’s be prepared for some sad goodbyes to this once feared football institution.

As their slogan says, “Lidoda duvha”, loosely translated “The day shall come”, indeed the relegation day is finally looming.

I thank you.

Khathu Mafadza

*Mafadza is a former sports journalist at Northern Media Group. He writes this Opinion piece in his personal capacity.

Motsepe Foundation Championship side Black Leopards have appointed experienced coach Owen Da Gama as their new head coach.

Rubber Doll, as he is affectionately known in the football fraternity, takes over from Johnny Ferreira. The club has also roped in seasoned football administrator and former SAFA Vhembe secretary Eric Muneri as the new manager.

Da Gama is no stranger to the people of Limpopo. He was born and raised in the province before he moved to Gauteng for work purposes. He also has family members around the Malamulele and Venda areas.

Da Gama has been without a club since parting ways with TS Galaxy back in 2020. He also worked with Muneri at bow defunct Dynamos side during the 2012/2013 season.

The pair began their new roles on Thursday afternoon at Malamulele Stadium in Limpopo. The 61-year-old will be assisted by Morgan Shivambu and Sam Banda as goalkeeper coach.

Owen Da Gama and Eric Muneri
Owen Da Gama and Eric Muneri

OWEN DA GAMA EXCITED TO HELP HIS HOME TEAM

“I am so happy to be back home to help Black Leopards,” he told LimSportsZone at the club’s training ground in Malamulele on Thursday.

“Chairman David Thidiela has been trying to bring me here but I was always contracted somewhere else. But by the grace of God, we are now together and I am here to help the team.

“I am so happy because it’s our local club and I pray that we work together so that I can help them to push this club away from relegation,” he said.

MORE ADDITIONS AT BLACK LEOPARDS

Leopards are also set to rope in former Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila media officer Livhuwani Madzuhe. Madzuhe is expected to take the role of supporters co-ordinator.

Leopards will be back in action on Sunday, 19 February when they take on Polokwane City in a Motsepe Foundation Championship clash.

ALSO READ: Black Leopards complete the signing of Siphelele Ntshangase