Out of time for last-minute PSL panic buys

Thulani Hlatshwayo says he needs a new challenge, could he steer Orlando Pirates' ship? Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix
Thulani Hlatshwayo says he needs a new challenge, could he steer Orlando Pirates' ship? Picture: Muzi Ntombela / BackpagePix

It’s still early days and three games might not be enough for coaches to have decided if they have the players to carry them through, or if they need new additions. Still, clubs have had a chance to see where they need to strengthen their squads, but time is running out with the Monday deadline looming large.

Some clubs, notably Orlando Pirates, are also hunting for a head coach following Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic’s sudden departure last week.

But, according to former club captain Lucky Lekgwathi, topping Pirates’ shopping list should be a quality defender if the team is serious about challenging for the league title. He has urged Bucs to spare no cost to land Bafana Bafana and Bidvest Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.

Lekgwathi, the last captain to lift silverware with Pirates in 2014, has identified the heart of the Bucs defence as their Achilles heel. He believes the only solution is to bring in the 29-year-old Hlatshwayo, who has hinted that he is ready for a move.

Hlatshwayo dropped hints last week that he was up for “a new challenge” and that “the [transfer] window is still open, so anything can still happen”.

“He is young and ready to walk into the team and lead them. He is the only defender who can solve our problems, and the club must go for him,” said Lekgwathi.

In recent times, the Pirates technical team has had to chop and change the back four, especially the centre backs, as they tried to stabilise the team. However, the results have remained unchanged.

But City Press has learnt that Wits are not willing to part ways with their most prized asset. If so, Pirates will have to look elsewhere for a centre back.

After failing to score in their opening three games – two losses and a draw – AmaZulu will be desperate to right their wrongs in front of goals. Although they showed great improvement in their goalless draw against Pirates on Wednesday, they will be eager to break their duck.

Coach Cavin Johnson will also be worried about his team’s showing, particularly in the opening two games, and needs to turn around their fortunes quickly if he wants to avoid being added to the list of the unemployed coaches.

Their new New Zealand striker Andre de Jong showed some signs of being a good finisher and, given time, he could be one of the best in the league.

Newcomers Stellenbosch FC might need to go to the market following their slow start in the Premiership. They are also yet to score after two games and might be tempted to raid the market for some experience.

Steve Komphela got a rude awaking from his former club Bloemfontein Celtic a fortnight ago. Whether the 5-0 thumping will force him to solidify the side will depend on the club’s coffers.

Maritzburg United are hoping their off-season buys will eventually come to the party after going through their opening two games without a win. They lost away to Lamontville Golden Arrows before forcing a draw with a last-minute goal against Highlands Park in their last outing. They are away to Stellenbosch today, hoping to pick up their first three points of the season.

Before yesterday’s game against Highlands Park, the Black Leopards public relations machinery was in full swing trying to do damage control regarding the future of their coach.

This was after it had emerged that the club had parted ways with Lionel Soccoia before he even sat down on the bench because of work permit issues. It remains to be seen how long he will last at the club.

Another coach whose future is constantly being speculated about is Kaizer Chiefs’ Ernst Middendorp. With the club linked with the return of their former coach Stuart Baxter, speculation is rife that one mistake will see the German out of Naturena.

Before last night’s encounter against SuperSport United, Middendorp had actually proved his detractors wrong after winning their opening two games. But some were still unhappy, branding their play unconvincing and boring despite the two victories over Highlands and Black Leopards.

There is also a question mark over Khama Billiat’s future at Amakhosi after he was linked with a move back to Mamelodi Sundowns.

With most of his stars out due to injuries, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane should be in a position to let go of some fringe players.

The defending champions have dropped four points already in their three games following draws against Chippa United and Cape Town City, but the Brazilians are still good value for their money.

Once they welcome back from injury the likes of Anthony Laffor, Oupa Manyisa and Uruguayan striker Mauricio Affonso, they should be able to withstand any onslaught from the rest of the clubs.

As for Wits, a lot will depend on whether they can hold on to their captain Hlatshwayo. If not, coach Gavin Hunt might be forced to look for a replacement, although he still has the likes of Robyn Johannes, who can easily slot into Hlatshwayo’s spot.

Limpopo sides Baroka and Polokwane City should be content with their squads so far, particularly City, who started the season on a high.

With their dire financial situation, Bloemfontein Celtic are not expected to be in action on the transfer market and the best they could do is promote youngsters from their reserve team.

Timothy Molobi
Deputy Sports Editor
City Press
p:+27 11 713 9619
w:www.citypress.co.za  e: timothy@citypress.co.za
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