Thulani Hlatshwayo Orlando Pirates’ ‘missing link’
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JOHANNESBURG - Former Orlando Pirates defender Siyabonga Sangweni has welcomed the signing of Thulani Hlatshwayo by the club, suggesting he’s been the missing piece of the puzzle for the Sea Robbers.
The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic was something what of a curse for Pirates, who were rejuvenated by the arrival of German coach Josef Zinnabuer late last year.
On form as they were up front, Pirates still had loopholes defensively, but the Buccaneers have made a swift move to inhibit their weaknesses in defence for next season, signing the highly-rated Hlatshwayo from Bidvest Wits.
The Wits captain will join Pirates after the Braamfontein-based club was recently sold to businessman Masala Mulaudzi, who is open to selling top-earners as he’ll be relocating the club to Venda and renaming it Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila.
Interest in Hlatshwayo was high, including from champions Mamelodi Sundowns. But being born and bred in Soweto, and with Pirates having been keen on acquiring his services for the last three seasons, the Bafana Bafana skipper has agreed in principle to become a Buccaneer next season.
Under Zinnbauer, Pirates have scored 19 goals in his 11 matches in charge, with seven wins, three draws and a loss.
“We are really playing well. The problem is that we lose concentration towards the end of the second half,” Sangweni said.
"We forget that we have to defend, although we know that we have to attack. But we have to do it both. Now I am really happy that we’ve signed Hlatshwayo."
Having donned the famous black and white jersey with distinction during his five years at Pirates, Sangweni’s says Hlatswayo is the missing cog that will enable the defensive contingent to function as a unit.The now-retired Sangweni only missed two league matches, making 36 appearances in all competitions when the Sea Robbers bagged a domestic treble during the 2011/12 PSL season.
Siyabonga Sangweni was key player at the back for Orlando Pirates. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Sangweni, however, does not see Hlatshwayo as his successor four years after hanging up his boots due to a lingering knee injury.
“He’s not here to replace me. Our style of play is different. He’s here to play his role,” he said of Hlatshwayo, who’s led Wits to three titles in the last four seasons - the league crown, MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.
“What’s important is we annihilate the stigma that we can’t play because a certain player is not there. They have to work together, that’s how we succeeded. We always made it a point to communicate.”
Sangweni was part of the Bafana Bafana squad in the 2010 Fifa World Cup on home soil.
The now 38-year-old watched Bafana's three group matches from the bench as they crashed out in the first round but still prides himself on the fact that he was part of the historic event.