Could Bafana Bafana and Wits centreback Thulani Hlatshwayo become the next big name to join Orlando Pirates? Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates is cognisant of the obstacles that comes with competing in the continent, and it is for that reason why they have decided to bolster their squad with nine signings. The Bucanneers finished second on the log and qualified for the Caf Champions League.

On Monday, Pirates announced that they have acquired the services of ex-Kaizer Chiefs goal-minder Brilliant Khuzwayo, Abel Mabaso, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Paseka Mako, Linda Mntambo, Vincent Pule, Meshack Maphangule, Asavela Mbekile and Ben Motshwari.

The club is expected to cut ties with some of the deadwood to make room for the new brooms to sweep clean in Parktown. Administrative manager Floyd Mbele elaborated about the wholesale changes that the club is currently embarking on.

"We've reinforced the team to improve our squad. Even last season, we made a number of signings. This is an ongoing process. We had to increase our numbers because we will be competing in the Caf (Champions League) next season," Mbele explained.

"That's why we have strengthened our team. We know about the demands that comes with playing in Caf. We've seen where have the other teams ended in the log after playing in continental competitions. We don't want to be victims."

SuperSport United were casualties last season as they escaped the promotion/relegation playoffs on the last day of the Premiership matches. Matsatsantsa A Pitori reached the final of the Caf Confederation Cup earlier on in the season, where they succumbed to DRC powerhouses TP Mazembe. 

Sundowns also struggled in the domestic action after clinching the Caf Champions League in 2016, as they failed to capture any of the local trophies in that season.

"It has happened to us before. We reached the final of the Caf Champions League in 2013 and the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup final. It took us time to recover after reaching those finals," Mbele said. 

"It also had an impact in us finishing number 11 on the log last season (2016/17). We don't want to find ourselves battling in domestic competitions because of our Caf participation. We need a strong squad that can compete on all fronts. We want to try and avoid the fatigue that comes with playing in Africa."

Pirates need no introduction to Caf competitions as their track record speaks volumes. In 1995 they were the champions of the Caf Champions League, and went on to lift the Caf Super Cup in 1996. Pirates were also Champions League semi-finalists in 2006.

"We need to be in consultation with the technical team. It is a process, but obviously there will be players leaving. But like I say, it is a process, not an event," Mbele added. 

Pirates are believed to be pushing hard for the services of Bafana Bafana defender, Bidvest Wits captain Thulani Hlatshwayo. "The transfer window market is still open, but don't throw individual names to me," Mbele concluded.

IOL Sport

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