New Orlando Pirates signing Kwanda Mngonyama is relishing the chance to improve his game learning from experienced players such as Happy Jele, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza.
The 27-year-old was unveiled as one of four players, including Goodman Mosele, Monnapule Saleng and Bandile Shandu, putting pen to paper on a two-year contract.
Mngonyama joined the Buccaneers as a free agent after parting ways with Maritzburg United, where he scored seven goals and assisted a further one from 110 appearances across all competitions.
The KwaZulu-Natal-born defender sat down for an interview with Orlandopiratesfc.com to open up about his dream move to the Soweto giants.
Kwanda, welcome to Orlando Pirates. Looking forward to this new chapter in your career?
KM: Yeah, definitely. Orlando Pirates is a club I grew up supporting and, by the grace of God, He made it possible that I get the opportunity to be part of the club. So, yeah, I’m really looking forward to it.
How would you describe your first day at training?
I got a warm welcome from the guys, which made me feel at home. Even though I can tell I’m in a different environment, I felt comfortable throughout.
Has reuniting with players you’ve played with before made settling in easy?
Yes, it has. There are quite a few players who have been my teammates in the past. So, it was good to see some familiar faces.
Having started your career in Gauteng before moving to the Western Cape and KZN, are you expecting a different challenge on your return?
I’ve gained quite a bit of experience with my stints at different clubs. I feel I’ve grown and learned a few things in the years since I played in this province as a youngster. So, I’m happy to bring that experience, and I feel I’ve arrived at Pirates at the right stage of my career.
On the field, you seem just as comfortable in the midfield as you do in defence. Which would you say is your preferred position?
It’s definitely centre back. I sometimes slot in at right back, as well as the centre of the midfield, but centre back is where I’m most comfortable. Even with that said, I’m always happy to play in whichever position the coach places me in, as long as it benefits the team.
There’s stiff competition for places in the Pirates squad. Are you looking forward to pushing for a regular starting place?
With the experienced players we have, I feel I have a great opportunity to learn from them and improve my game. With hard work, I know the opportunities will come. I just have to stay focused and keep fit. Plus I’m glad we still have the likes of Happy Jele, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza. Those are players I can learn from and improve my game for the benefit of the club.
Lastly, any message for the Buccaneers faithful?
Without promising heaven and earth, all I can say is I’m happy to be a part of this great club, and looking forward to delivering to the best of my ability.
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