JOHANNESBURG - Jerry Sikhosana has called on Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza to get more involved with the club to ensure the Buccaneers return to winning ways.
Describing himself and other legends of the club as being “very angry” at the club’s poor showing in the past season, the former striker said only Khoza can ensure Pirates perform better.
“My challenge to the chairman is that he must get more involved. Of course he might be getting a little older now, but he remains the Iron Duke and when he speaks these boys are bound to listen like we used to,” said the man whose goal earned Pirates the honour of being the first team from southern Africa to be crowned African champions.
“I remember during our time the chairman used to come into the dressing room and his voice was so powerful that you did not want to hear it for a second time and because of that you went out there and did the job.”
Speaking at the launch of the club’s new jersey for the upcoming 2017/18 season, Sikhosana was at pains to explain the humiliation Pirates’ pathetic previous season has inflicted on him and his peers.
“I am not enjoying my legendary status now because of the club’s bad form. Wherever I go, people come to us and ask what is going on at the club even though we are not involved.”
From his vantage point as an analyst though, Sikhosana, believes there’s an attitude problem, hence his call to Khoza to crack the whip.
“I look at the players' attitude on the field and it worries me. They look too relaxed, very laid back. It seems like they feel as though they are already winners by just wearing this jersey. They look content and perhaps they need the chairman to remind them of what it means to wear this jersey.
“With us, he even used to come to the hotel at six in the morning and would say to us ‘if you don’t do well, then you will lose your contract’. Maybe that’s what he needs to do again.”
That the club has signed new players such as Thamsanqa Sangweni and Wayne Sandilands is neither here nor there according to the former prolific striker who was nicknamed "Legs of Thunder".
“It doesn’t matter who the signings are for Pirates. The key is that they come in and make a difference. It is not about individuals but about the team. I joined Pirates from Aces and we also had a few players joining from Jomo Cosmos who were relegated. But putting on the Pirates jersey got us to play much better than we did and we won the league in 1994 and went on to win the Champions League after that.”
Sikhosana lamented the fact that Teboho Moloi is no longer on the Pirates bench.
“Do you realise that whenever Teboho was part of the technical team Pirates did well. And that’s because he is Pirates through and through and he was able to share with the players. For me, Jazzy Queen (Legodi, the assistant coach) does not know the culture of Pirates.”
But Benson Mhlongo, the second assistant, is a former Pirates player?
“Benson does not have the character to have a go at the players and make them realise they have to play for the jersey,” he argues, adding that it is a travesty that legends such as himself, Edward Motale and Helman Mkhalele continue to have the bigger share of the limelight ahead of the current crop of players.
“It pains me that I am still the one who’s being asked all the questions at a conference such as this when the current players are around. I am the past and they are the present but I still take centre stage.”
Currently busy with his coaching licences, Sikhosana says he would readily take on the challenge of helping lead his beloved club back to glory. Until then he believes the ball is in the chairman’s court to turn the club’s fortunes around.