The arrival of nine new players at Orlando Pirates is exactly what is needed to reclaim the glory days at the Soweto giants, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
With a statement on their website, Pirates announced the signings of Brilliant Khuzwayo, Vincent Pule, Ben Motshwari, Meshack Maphangule, Asavela Mbekile, Linda Mntambo, Abel Mabaso, Paseka Mako and Kudakwashe Mahachi.
The statement also highlighted the reasoning behind signing so many players in one go: ‘Strengthening of the squad has been the No 1 priority for the administrative office in anticipation of a gruelling season which will see the club competing in five competitions, including the Caf Champions League, which starts in November.’
— Orlando Pirates FC (@orlandopirates) June 11, 2018
The Buccaneers have spread their nine signings across the pitch. They have signed a goalkeeper, two forwards, five midfielders and one defender in what is a clear attempt to ensure they have enough cover heading into what would be a far more testing campaign next season with the added Caf Champions League fixtures.
South African teams have notoriously struggled in Africa’s premium cup competition, with the obvious exception being Mamelodi Sundowns.
Last season we saw both SuperSport United and defending 2016-17 champions Bidvest Wits falter in the Absa Premiership after participating in the Caf competitions, with both sides in the relegation mix for large parts of the season.
There is no coincidence behind the success of Pitso Mosimane and his charges in these competitions. The size of the squad at Chloorkop allows Mosimane to manage his players in a way that allows them to challenge on all fronts. This includes a fair amount of rotation and resting of every player in the squad regardless of their importance, with even Percy Tau having time out of the team last season.
By making so many additions to the squad, Milutin Sredojevic will be hoping that his Pirates side can match Sundowns by challenging in every competition next season.
The improvement at the Soweto giants since the arrival of Micho and his technical team was reinforced by their second-place finish in the Absa Premiership. However, the arrival of nine players could just halt the side’s momentum, with so many players having to adapt at the same time.
Micho will face a tough task when trying to integrate the new arrivals into the team as well as keeping the other players focused and motivated when the rotation policy comes into full effect. He will also be tasked with the job of identifying the players who are surplus to requirements and will need to be moving on.
It is clear that Pirates and Micho are aiming for success across all competitions next season and I think there may just be an added focus on adding another star to the famous Pirates badge.
With a talented squad being assembled at Orlando Pirates, a memorable 2018-19 season could just be on the cards.