CAPE TOWN – If there was a prize for the most signings made in the current Premier Soccer League (PSL) transfer window, Orlando Pirates would be the frontrunners.
While Pirates, runners-up in the league, could almost put out an entirely new starting XI if they wished next season, Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs have been relatively quiet to date, while defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns have yet to make a single confirmed signing.
On Tuesday, Chiefs confirmed their third new arrival – Serbian Striker Samir Nurkovic, who follows Zambian striker Lazarous Kambole and the Ghana-born defensive midfielder James Kotei in joining the Glamour Boys.
The club also announced the imminent signing of another overseas player – Kearyn Baccus from Australian club Melbourne City. The 27-year-old Durban-born Baccus is a central midfielder.
While Amakhosi have gone international, Pirates have taken a 'local is lekker' approach, with seven of their eight new acquisitions coming from PSL clubs, the exception being France-born goalkeeper Joris Delle.
The Sea Robbers' other new men are Gabadinho Mhango (Bidvest Wits), Tebogo Tlolane (Chippa United), Bongani Sam, Tshegofatso Mabasa, Kabelo Dlamini (all Bloemfontein Celtic), and former Maritzburg United duo Fortune Makaringe and Siphesihle Ndlovu.
Bucs also have a handful of loan returnees, some of whom will stay with the team this season, while others have been shipped out again.
The signing spree has also in resulted in a mass exodus, with Thabo Matlaba, Abbubaker Mobara, Marshall Munetsi, Ayanda Nkosi, Thabo Qalinge and Jackson Mabokgwane all already have departed, with more likely to follow.
Long-time Buccaneer Matlaba has joined Black Leopards, who have also made some other useful looking signings in experienced PSL campaigners Thuso Phala and Mogakolodi Ngele, as well as bringing in Ghana-born midfielder Mumuni Abubakar from National First Division (NFD) side Royal Eagles. Former Chiefs defender Tefu Mashamaite is also reportedly training with Lidoda Duvha.
It will remain to be seen if the Limpopo club can hang onto the league's top scorer last season, Zambian forward Mwape Musonda.
Zimbabwean international Munetsi has left Pirates for French Ligue 1 outfit Stade de Reims, while Mobara has returned home to play for Cape Town City. Also joining the Citizens is Tashrique Morris, the striker moving across the city from Ajax Cape Town.
Departing Cape Town City are Kwanda Mngonyama and Judas Moseamedi, who have both moved to Maritzburg United. The KZN Midlands team have also acquired winger Yusuf Jappie from Golden Arrows, and midfielder Phumlani Ntshangase on loan from Bidvest Wits.
SuperSport have meanwhile snapped up two men from the Buccaneers – striker Thamsanqa Gabuza and Zimbabwean winger Kudakwashe Mahachi.
Arrows have so far only captured Michael Gumede from Richards Bay, but have recently been linked with Pirates defender Gladwin Shitolo.
The third KZN club, AmaZulu, have brought back striker Lehlohonolo Majoro for a second spell, as well as signing Andre de Jong – a New Zealand-born forward.
Wits, meanwhile, have boosted their squad with Fagrie Lakay, who returns from SuperSport, as well as Black Leopards midfielder Phathutshedzo Nange, plus goalkeeper Brandon Petersen and striker Prince Nxumalo, both from Ajax.
Highlands Park, who did so well last season after being promoted from the NFD, have made what appear to be two very useful signings in veteran striker Rodney Ramagalela and Marks Munyai, a former marauding right-back at Leopards.
Chippa United have been linked with midfielder Lehlogonolo Masalesa, and have reportedly signed goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb from Bloemfontein Celtic. Phetso Maphanga and Diamond Thopola are expected to return from Pirates.
In addition, head coach Clinton Larsen's contract has been extended for a further two years, while Daine Klate, the PSL's most decorated player, has announced his retirement.
Celtic, who have parted ways with a number of their best players, have so far only drafted in Harris Tchilimbou, the former Free State Stars marksman.
Baroka FC, who just narrowly escaped relegation a couple of months ago, have looked to neighbouring Mozambique, as well as to the NFD for their new acquisitions, including Kamohelo Mogashwa and Phelelang Shozi (both AmaTuks), Sibonelo Ngubane (Richards Bay), Manuel Kambala (UD Songo, Mozambique), Gerald Phiri Jnr (Ajax CT), and Richard Mbulu (Costa Dol Sol, Mozambique).
Polokwane City have been quiet, with goalkeeper Cyril Chibwe from Jomo Cosmos the only new player so far.
Newly-promoted Stellenbosch FC have penned deals with Zimo Brenner and Waseem Isaacs, who both played for Ubuntu Cape Town last season, the club which was relegated from the NFD.
Sundowns are yet to go to market, but have been linked with a number of players, including SuperSport's Zimbabwean hitman, Evans Rusike.
African News Agency (ANA)