TS Galaxy striker Zakhele Lepasa’s eligibility has come under scrutiny ahead of this weekend’s Nedbank Cup final against Kaizer Chiefs.
Lepasa is a product of Orlando Pirates currently on loan at Galaxy and has since been nominated in the Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament and Most Promising Player categories at the PSL Awards taking place this Sunday.
He has managed three goals in three games for the Kameelrivier-based First Division outfit, whom he joined in January after an initial loan spell at newly crowned NFD champions Stellenbosch in the first half of the season.
While at the Western Cape side, the 22-year-old featured 120 minutes in their Nedbank Cup first round tie against Mbombela United, who ended up 4-2 victors in the penalty shootout on December 2, thus raising eyebrows over whether he should have been cup-tied or not.
Given the recent influx of eligibilty cases in the PSL, the League's communications head Luxolo September has since debunked the notion as he explained exactly how the competition rules work.
“The qualifiers are a different competition altogether, so if you play a qualifier for ‘Team One’ – e.g. Magesi FC – and then go and join ‘Team Two’ – e.g. Kaizer Chiefs – it’s not impossible because there’s a registration period [transfer window] in between,” explained September.
“So, it’s not a default. You are only cup-tied if you’ve played for one team in the Last 32 and then you move to another team who are still in the competition beyond that.
“The qualifiers also have different rules. To simplify it, in the qualifiers NFD teams are bound by the rules of their league – i.e. The Under-23 rule, but from the Last 32 there is no restriction of age and all that.”
Furthermore, Article 6.1 of the Nedbank Rules states: “The competition will be preceded by qualification competitions contested by SAFA and National First Division clubs. Those competitions will be separate competitions with their own Rules.”
Article 8.4 of the said Rules also adds that: “A player whose name appears on a team sheet of a participating club in the Nedbank Cup, will be deemed to be cup-tied and may not play for another club in the Nedbank Cup for the same season. Players who participated in the qualification competitions of SAFA or the National First Division are not considered as cup-tied because those are separate competitions.”
This therefore puts to bed any doubts that may have arisen as to whether Lepasa and TS Galaxy have been operating within the rules of the competition.