Orlando Pirates’ Happy Jele poses with a gift following his 400th appearance for the team. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Orlando Pirates’ Happy Jele poses with a gift following his 400th appearance for the team. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Consistent Happy Jele still adds a lot of quality to Orlando Pirates’ cause

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Sep 11, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates caretaker coach Fadlu Davids says “we needed the performance more than the three points" after his team returned to winning ways in the DStv Premiership through a 1-0 victory over neighbours Swallows FC on Saturday afternoon.

Pirates went in the ‘original Soweto derby’ on a winless run after three matches in the new season. They lost their opening match in the MTN8 quarter-final to Swallows at home, before drawing with Stellenbosch FC and Marumo Gallants in the league.

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However, a late header from substitute Tshegofatso Mabasa against the Birds, at home on Saturday, ensured that the Buccaneers bagged their first win and full points of the season. Davids, though, was more chuffed by his team's outing than the results.

“In every match that you play, you always have that pressure as a coach. We needed the three points but most importantly, we needed the performance. It’s a process in terms of where the squad is. You lose a coach and you have to stabilise,” he said.

“You have to look at what was good in the past and what to prioritize, fix and improve on. Yes, the goal came late. But we knew that in the second half, Swallows have a trend to bring on two new wingers. And that can open some (parts) of the game.”

Pirates’ triumph over their neighbours was also important in the sense that it signalled the 400th cap for captain Happy Jele in style. Jele is the first Pirates’ player to reach that incredible milestone, while he’s won multiple trophies, including two league titles.

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“When he performs like this, and is consistent in every game that he plays, that’s only one of his qualities,” Fadlu lauded Jele who also racked up the Man of the Match award. “The other quality that you do not see is in the change room: managing the new players.”

Davids continued: “He’s keeping the group together and he does so much for the squad behind the scenes. A true captain; a true leader. Born with a natural instinct of being a leader. He’ll be a top coach one day as well – able to understand the game.”

Meanwhile, Davids also confirmed that talisman Thembinkosi Lorch won’t be available “for the rest of the year…due to a long term injury”.

The Bucs will be hoping to build on from their winning momentum when they visit Chippa United next Saturday in Gqeberha.

@Mihlalibaleka

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