JOHANNESBURG – “I have a lot to offer, a lot,” Orlando Pirates’ new goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo said in the matter-of-fact tone that’s a large part of his personality.
The 28-year-old is always frank when he speaks, he never holds anything back - and in fact he admits that he has an ego. Even as a youngster at AmaZulu he would tell the technical team that he deserved to be starting ahead of more experienced goalkeepers.
Confidence and the desire to be the best in the country saw the lad from Umlazi go from playing in the National First Division to spending six years at Kaizer Chiefs - a place that’s consistently the home of the best goalkeepers in the league.
Khuzwayo grew as a goalkeeper in his time at Chiefs to a point that he featured for Bafana Bafana in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. But the downside for a goalkeeper at Chiefs is the presence of one Itumeleng Khune - the most capped Bafana goalkeeper of all time with 87 caps and over 300 appearances in the colours of Amakhosi.
Lack of gametime pushed Khuzwayo to join the Buccaneers, where he will compete for the No. 1 jersey with Jackson Mabokgwane, Siyabonga Mpontshane and Wayne Sandilands. Those three goalkeepers struggled to make the jersey their own last season.
“I have a lot to offer, a lot,” Khuzwayo said. “If given game time, I will improve a lot. I believe in hard work. No one has died from hard work. I have a lot to offer. I have too much confidence in myself and my talent but I also have respect. You’ve got to have an ego as a player. There’s an iPhone and a Samsung. If people don’t like the iPhone, they choose a Samsung. Let’s see how the season is going to be like and let’s see who is going to be No. 1 at Bafana Bafana.”
Khuzwayo describes going to Pirates as coming “home”. He spent some time in the club’s development structures before breaking into the professional setup in his hometown with Usuthu eight years ago.
His homecoming coincided with the Buccaneers recovering from their slump of two seasons ago. Pirates finished second last season, they are genuine contenders for the Premiership and they’ll be returning to Caf Champions League football for the first time since they lost to Al-Ahly in the final in 2013.
“I believe that there is never a right or wrong time to anything in life,” Khuzwayo said. “You decide whether it’s the right or wrong time. It took a couple of months for me to decide that this is the right move to make. I had to sit down with my family and decide what’s next for me, do I need a challenge or am I comfortable where I was? As a footballer, you want to enjoy your football.”
Khuzwayo continued, “I want to enjoy my football and I chose to come here because being on the bench isn’t a nice thing for a footballer. You want to play every time. That’s why we chose football and playing consistently is living your dream.
I think that this is the perfect time for me to be in this team. This is a big institution. We want to conquer Africa and get the second star. That’s the priority. We also want to win the league.
With the quality of players that we have, we have that chance.”@NJABULON