Zakri strikes two-year deal with United

MARITZBURG United heaved a sigh of relief after they finally concluded contract talks with Mamelodi Sundowns striker Yannick Zakri yesterday afternoon on a two-year deal with an option to renew.

The matter had been unsettled for a few weeks and this only added to the team’s downcast mood from a four-match winless run.

The speedy Ivorian attacker’s move to the Midlands club is part of the deal that saw versatile youngster Lebohang Maboe join the Brazilians during the current transfer period.

Atat their training session on Monday, the 27-year-old Zakri, who missed the first few matches of the campaign because of a delay in talks with his former employers, said he was ready and itching to don the blue and white shirt.

“I’m very happy to be back playing. I’m happy to be playing for a team like Maritzburg United. They are one of the best teams in the league. I want to say thank you to the coach as well for showing interest in me,” he said.

Zakri, who arrived in South Africa in 2016, spent the second half of last season on loan to Ajax Cape Town after failing to establish himself as a regular in coach Pitso Mosimane’s starting line-up at Chloorkop.

But he believes the move to Pietermaritzburg will help him as well as the team, which he reckons plays an attractive brand of football having watched them do well over the past campaign.

“I have been training with the team and I know I’m not 100% fit but I think we gel nicely.

“I know there are brilliant attackers here and I have to work hard to get a spot in the line-up. But it’s something that I came here for and I’m ready,” he added.

In confirming the news, coach Fadlu Davids said Zakri was the right fit to his vibrant youthful side and now it was a case of getting his fitness right during their month-long lay-off.

Said Davids: “He is a quality player. He’s a goal scorer and he has fantastic movements.

“He definitely fits our type of style and he is the striker we were looking for. I think he will compliment the likes of [Andrea] Fileccia and Mohau Mokate. We are stronger now in that department since Evans Rusike left.

“His qualities bring a healthy competition to our firepower. The players have taken him in very well and that’s a good sign for us.”

His move brings to seven the number of professional signings made by the local club this season.

The other six are defenders Nazeer Allie, Denwin Farmer, midfielders Keagan Buchanan and Tholang Masegela and attackers Keletso Makgalwa and Justice Figueredo.

They also signed Sizwe Muthwa and Siyanda Mbatha from amateur clubs.

Meanwhile, their unsettled midfield star Siphesihle Ndlovu continued training with the local club yesterday despite alleged off-field issues that have seen him linked with a possible move away from the club at some point.

The KwaMpumuza-born 21-year-old, who was one of Davids’ top performers last campaign, faces about two months on the sidelines after getting a straight red card in their 0-0 draw at home to Kaizer Chiefs last time out.

The Witness reported yesterday that so far Sundowns were the only club known to the Team of Choice that have come forward with their intentions although it was suspected that there were a few other teams trying to lure him away.

While the player did not want to say anything about the matter, he did assure that he had no plans to leave the Midlands side yet, contrary to recent speculation.