Battle rages for Pirates defenders

2011-07-09 18:55

Orlando Pirates seem to be following the example of Italian football – where clubs invest more in defenders than in ­attacking players.

The arrival of central defender Siyabonga Sangweni from ­Lamontville Golden Arrows means that 10 players will battle for the four starting berths in defence this season.

Six experienced campaigners, captain Lucky Lekgwathi, Rooi Mahamutsa, Robyn Johannes, Lucas Thwala, Zvenyika ­Makonese and Sangweni will fight for the two central ­positions.

Benson Mhlongo, who has ­recovered from a troublesome knee injury, can also play in that position.

With the club having recalled all the players who were loaned out, this could only mean the end of the road for some of them.

Worse still, coach Jairo Leal has hinted that he is also in the market for another central ­defender.

On their way to winning the league championship last ­season, Pirates conceded the least number of goals – 23 – a feat they shared with Kaizer Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic.

This was largely due to their watertight defence, which was not easy to penetrate. ­Sangweni’s arrival means Leal will have to reshuffle things.

Although this might be seen as a healthy situation for a team which will be campaigning in the Caf Champions League, it will herald trouble for players yearning for more game time.

Already news from the Bucs camp is that Makonese could be shown the door after spending most of the season on the stands.

The left back position could also cause headaches for the coach, with national Under-23 ­Sibusiso Mxoyana staking a ­serious claim.

He will surely give Reuben Cloete a run for his money.

New arrival Lizo Mjempu from Ajax Cape Town will also expect some game time in this position and with both Thwala and Lekgwathi also able to fill the position, it should provide the Brazilian mentor with food for thought.

It’s not only at the back where Leal will have to shuffle his players.

The arrival of Sameegh Doutie gives Dikgang Mabalane and Tlou Segolela some stiff competition on the right wing, while Daine Klate will fight it out with Mark Mayambela on the left flank.

Campaigning in the continent is taxing for players and this ­situation could be just what Leal needed to juggle his team around without relying on the same old players.

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