DURBAN – Will Orlando Pirates really take a gamble and hand Brilliant Khuzwayo his debut against his former team Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto Derby today?
Khuzwayo joined the Buccaneers from Amakhosi at the start of the season, but is yet to make his debut for his new club. The Umlazi-born goal-minder has recovered from an injury that kept him out for the start of the season.
Siyabonga Mpontshane and Jackson Mabokgwane have done well in his absence. So, will Khuzwayo appear for the first time in Pirates colours today?
William Shongwe, who had a stint with both Chiefs and Pirates, is confident that Khuzwayo will rise to the occasion should he be called to do duty.
“It is not going to be an easy one (for Brilliant). Knowing Brilliant, he is one goalkeeper that has confidence about himself whereby he can face any situation.
“You can see even when he is in goals, facing penalty shootouts, he doesn’t seem or look intimidated in anyway. This is just who he is.
“That’s how he is going to approach this encounter. He just has that nature of confidence about him,” Shongwe said in an interview with Independent Media.
Asked about how difficult it is to cross the road from Chiefs to Pirates or the other way around, he replied: “It is not easy particularly if you’re looking at leaving Chiefs and going to Pirates.
“Pirates is still another big team. You set yourself a bar as a player that you want to be at that level. Sometimes if you drop too low, the pressure is not that much and the competition is not that much.
“It does tend to take away that level of excitement from you. Playing for these two, there’s no dull moment about your game. That helps you to keep your performance level high up there.”
Khuzwayo was born and bred in Umlazi. He has an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the late Senzo Meyiwa, who was from the same area.
“I can’t blame him (for leaving Chiefs). He spent so much time on the bench. Even when he was playing, they didn’t allow him to make a mistake or to drop his performance levels for him to be substituted.
“That doesn’t help the confidence of any goalkeeper. It was the same thing that happened to Reyaad Pieterse (who left Chiefs to join SuperSport United) and he opted (to choose) that, you know what, it is time up for me at Kaizer Chiefs,” he added.
Shongwe also went on to open up about his decision to leave Chiefs and join Pirates.
“It was an intense time (when I moved to Pirates). The rivalry between the two was very intense. Supporters weren’t too sure if you are coming from the other side what were you bringing, and how sure is management that you will not sell games?
“The first game I made it when we played Pretoria City at Orlando Stadium. A week prior to that, Pirates had lost 5-1 to Bloemfontein Celtic.
“I had to make sure that I do well enough to convince the people, and fortunately I had a decent game, making numerous saves on the day. From there on, they believed that I can do the job for Pirates,” Shongwe elaborated.
The Swaziland-born legend is expecting an exhilarating derby this afternoon.
“People are waiting in anticipation. Remember, we didn’t have the Carling Black Label Cup, where those new signings who have been tested against each other like it would happen in the past.
“It is the first derby game that is going to happen. It is going to be an exciting derby for sure,” Shongwe concluded.