JOHANNESBURG - Former Orlando Pirates striker Phumudzo Manenzhe has backed the club’s new striker Tshegofatso Mabasa to grab the opportunity of donning the famous black and white jersey of the Sea Robbers by the scruff of the neck.
Having been the busiest team in the transfer window as they prepare for next season, Pirates raided cash strapped Bloemfontein Celtic by signing Mabasa, Kabelo Dlamini and Bongani Sam.
However, it was the move of Mabasa that made headlines. The 22-year-old striker had an exceptional 2018-19 season, scoring 10 goals in all competitions, while inspiring his team to a top-eight finish on the PSL standings. On the other hand, Pirates were in need of a target man especially with the hot and cold form of Zambian duo Augustine Mulenga and Justin Shonga.
“I am happy with the new signing but you look at the last two seasons in terms of the target man (Thamsanqa Gabuza) that we’ve had at the club, he was not producing the goals,” Manenzhe said.
“You now get a Tshegofatso Mabasa that I am happy with. He plays well with his back at goals. He’s very powerful aerially. He’s very mobile and coming in at Orlando Pirates with 10 goals. He’ll be able to bring in the likes of Vincent Pule and (Thembinkosi Lorch) into the game.”
Following his underwhelming form for the Buccaneers since his arrival during the 2013-14 season, Gabuza left the club at the end of last season to join Pretoria side SuperSport United. However, with the new season set to commence on August 2, discerning Pirates supporters will get a chance to see Mabasa in action before that. The Soweto giants will renew their rivalry with neighbours Kaizer Chiefs in the Black Label Cup on July 27.
The starting team’s of both sides are selected by fans, while the substitutes will also be selected by supporters via Twitter feeds. Pirates have won four of the seven Black Label Cups.
Manenzhe admits that he is excited at the arrival of Fortune Makaringe from Maritzburg United.
“Another signing that I am excited to see coming in is Fortune Makaringe. He was very consistent for Mariztburg United in the past three seasons. You cannot question his technical quality and he’s a box-to-box player. You look at the game model that Orlando Pirates play - they want to build from the back and get somebody to form combination play and small triangles in the midfield and Fortune Makaringe brings that,” he said.
Having finished as league runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns the last two seasons, Manenzhe believes that the strengthening of the team is what will probably make Pirates a cut above the rest.
Moreover, following their burning desire to return to continental glory, they will have enough personnel to compete on all fronts.
“I always say that you don’t sign players because the current players are playing badly but you do that to bring competition into that position,” Manenzhe said.
“Fortune Makaringe was signed to bring competition to Xola Mlambo and that will push him, the latter, to lift his game.”@Mihlalibaleka