Stellenbosch FC have moved quickly to announce that they have released two of their best players Ashley Du Preez and Zitha Kwhinika to Kaizer Chiefs for next season.
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The duo had a sterling season with Stellies at opposing ends of the pitch. Du Preez had his breakthrough season scoring nine goals while Khwinika, who was previously known as Macheke, was among the best defenders in the DStv Premiership.
“It’s never an easy decision leaving a club like Stellenbosch, a town that’s given me so much, a community that’s given me so much,” said Du Preez as quoted in a media statement sent out by the club on Monday morning.
“I want to thank the management, the coaching staff, Garth Le Roux and Rob Benadie. I want to thank them for supporting me. I want to thank the community for supporting me through thick and thin,” added the 24-year-old.
With strikers Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic said to be on their way out at Naturena, Chiefs have found a solid replacement in the speedy Du Preez.
Khwinika will come in handy as Daniel Cardoso and Mulomowandau Mathoho are said to also be on their way out as new coach Arthur Zwane looks to freshen the team with young players.
“I’m grateful for Stellenbosch, especially Coach Steve Barker, Rob Benadie, but most importantly my teammates,” said Khwinika.
“They helped me become a better player, so I am quite grateful for the team, and everyone involved in the backroom staff. I also want to thank the supporters for the love they showed me.
“Even though I am looking forward to the new challenge that lies ahead of me I will always represent the Winelands wherever I go because they helped me to grow and become a better player, a better individual, and a better human being.”
Stellies coach Steve Barker said it was hard for him to see Khwinika leaving as he considers him one of the best players he has in the team.
“It will be tough to replace a player like Zitha. I rate him as one of the best centre backs in this league,” said Barker.
“I’m glad we could provide the opportunity for him to showcase his abilities and develop into the player that he is today. Even though it’s tough to see him go, we are incredibly happy for Zitha and wish him all the best in his next chapter.”