Tshegofatso Mabasa eager to be Orlando Pirates’ leading man against Kaizer Chiefs

Orlando Pirates will be in full force when their team plays Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium.. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)

Orlando Pirates will be in full force when their team plays Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium.. (Photo by PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)

Published Mar 9, 2024


Tshegofatso Mabasa is rejuvenated and ready to bang in the goals for Orlando Pirates after using his time off from the club to work on his mental strength.

Mabasa recently returned to Pirates after his 18-month loan spells with Sekhukhune United and Moroka Swallows ended.

Having scored six goals in the first half of the season during his stint with Swallows, Mabasa returns to his parent club with a lot of expectations.

After scoring one goal in three appearances for Pirates since the restart, the 27-year-old says he’s gradually finding his feet at the club.

“I’m very excited (to be back). I’m in a good head space right now. And it is only a matter of time before I start delivering again,” Mabasa explained.

“Playing for this club comes with its own pressures – dealing with the supporters when things are not going our way. But that’s where your mental strength kicks in.

“As a player, you need to be very strong mentally, continue to work hard and believe in your abilities because this is something you are born with.

“And that is exactly what I bring to the table: goals, holding up play, linking up with my teammates. That is exactly what I want to do for the remainder of the season.”

Pirates is more than a place of employment for Mabasa. It is an institution that he longed to be part of when he started his football career.

And while he realised his childhood dream when he joined the Sea Robbers from Bloemfontein Celtic in 2019, his second homecoming is more fulfilling.

“This is a great institution to be part of. And I’ll always be grateful for being part of it. I’ll always give my best, and I’m grateful to be back home,” he said.

There would be no better time for Mabasa to give his best than this afternoon when Pirates host arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium at 3.30pm.

“For me, I believe this is arguably the biggest game in Africa. And growing up, I used to watch the Soweto derby,” the Botshabelo-born striker explained.

“To be part of this game is a privilege and honour, honestly. And the best way to repay that would be going out on Saturday and giving the performances of our lives.”

And with Pirates’ No 9 Evidence Makgopa a doubt for this match due to a knock he sustained last week, Mabasa is expected to lead the line for Pirates in the derby.

Chiefs have been woeful compared to Pirates since the restart, going three goalless games before Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Golden Arrows at home.

But Bruce Bvuma has been their knight in shining armour, keeping seven clean sheets in the last eight games in all competitions.

Chiefs are high on confidence after beating Arrows, while Pirates had to settle for a draw against the struggling Cape Town Spurs on Wednesday.

Chiefs’ youngster Wandile Duba, who scored against Arrows, is riding on his team’s winning wave and he warned Pirates: “Expect me because I am coming.”

But with Pirates on a two-game winning run in the derby, in the Nedbank Cup last 16 and in better form than Chiefs, Mabasa fired his own warning at Amakhosi.

“There is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Going into the game, we are going in with a lot of confidence,” Mabasa said.

“On the back of losses, winning the MTN8 as well, we want to win the

Nedbank Cup as well and then also finish as high as possible in the league.

“Going into Saturday’s game, that is exactly what we’ll show on the pitch. We will do our talking on the pitch.”