Thalente eyes third start in a row at Pirates

Thalente Mbatha of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Thalente Mbatha of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 6, 2024


Thalente Mbatha of Orlando Pirates. | BackpagePix


THALENTE Mbatha is living a dream. A bit-part player at SuperSport United, the young lad from Kwa-Mashu, in Durban, was looking to work at establishing himself with Matsatsantsa a Pitori when he got the call many players long to receive.

“I received a call from Orlando Pirates that they want my services,” the 23-year-old explained to the media this week, during an open training session ahead of the Buccaneers’ DStv Premiership tie against Cape Town Spurs.

“I was confused, I didn’t know what was happening.”

A mommy’s boy through and through, Mbatha needed to tell his mother the news. And so when Pirates called him a second time, he did not answer his phone.

“I did not take the second call until I was home with my mother and when she heard, she said, ‘Are you sure it is Orlando Pirates? Are you sure?’

“I said ‘yes’. It is a dream come true for me.”

He has been signed by the Soweto giants on a six-month loan, having joined them during the January transfer window. But he would love to stay a Buccaneer for good.

“I am hoping to get as much game time as I can so that I will be a better player and that will build my confidence. But I hope to make it a permanent situation.”

He is making inroads into convincing the club that he is worthy of being made a permanent member of the team, having made three appearances in the famous black and white.

Should he make the first XI against Spurs tonight, it will be a third successive match that he starts – a sign, no doubt, that coach Jose Riviero is impressed with him. Mbatha started against Crystal Lake in the Nedbank Cup and was in the run-on team last weekend when Pirates visited Polokwane City.

It is good going for a player who had made a paltry five appearances at SuperSport.

“When I left SuperSport, I told myself I would not want to make the same mistakes again.

“Coach Gavin Hunt had told me that I was lacking a bit of enthusiasm and that I was not pressing enough. I came here knowing what I had to improve on.

“I worked on all that and here I am driving more with the ball. I am playing my football and working on understanding the system of Pirates.”

He admits that he has joined a giant of South African football and will thus have to not only up his game but how he handles himself off the field, given the expectations that come with being a member of one of the country’s biggest clubs.

“It is a big institution that has a lot of history, something that I should respect. I came here as a person who wants to learn.

“I am still young and the people (playing) in my position are very experienced and very old. They’ve played for too long.

“So, if I don’t change my style of play, if I learn from them, I could use the two to get better.”

That he is getting better will be evidenced by him playing a key role in helping the Buccaneers to avoid suffering the ignominy of a league double loss to a Spurs side that has found the going pretty tough in the top league since their promotion from the first division.

To achieve that he has to stop thinking he is dreaming and realise that he is now a Buccaneer, the fact he is currently on loan notwithstanding.