Pule Ekstein back in South Africa
Fans of Azerbaijan side Sabah FC have reacted with surprise at the exit of South Africa's playmaker Pule Ekstein from the club on Monday.
Ekstein also appeared caught off guard by the move‚ despite the club saying his contract was terminated “by mutual consent”.
Sabah offered no reasons for the termination‚ while TimesLIVE has not been able to make contact with the player or a spokesman for the club.
He is second on the list of assists by a foreigner in the Azerbaijan league this season‚ with four‚ and has also netted three goals in 16 appearances in all competitions.
Ekstein’s game-time was cut following the appointment of new Croatian coach Željko Sopić in late November‚ after which he was used off the bench‚ and it appears he was simply not in the plans of the new tactician.
But it is still an abrupt end to a promising six-month spell in Europe‚ where after a slow start‚ Ekstein became a valued member of Sabah … according to the fans at least.
“He was the best player for the future‚” wrote Xalil Ismayilzade on the club’s Facebook page‚ while another user begged Ekstein to come to Azerbaijan rivals Neftçi.
“Ekstein was the strongest player‚” added Instagram user Ramid Qasimov‚ one of a number of Sabah fans who seem genuinely remorseful at his exit.
The move has also been met with scorn by South African users who had followed the club via social media‚ in much the same way as tens of thousands joined the Club Brugge platforms after Percy Tau arrived at the Belgian club‚
Many joked that they too were “terminating” their relationship with the team following the exit of Ekstein.