Pirates have made a swift move in their bid to plug their weaknesses in defence for next season, signing the highly-rated Thulani Hlatshwayo.
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 that will enable the Sea Robbers’ ship to sail like a well-oiled machine.
The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic was somewhat of a blessing for teams that needed to regenerate, while it was a curse for those that were on form – such as Pirates, who were rejuvenated following the arrival of Josef Zinnabuer late last year.
On-form as they were up front, Pirates still had their loopholes defensively, losing concentration when they should easily have wrapped up games. But the Buccaneers have made a swift move in their bid to plug their weaknesses in defence for next season, signing the highly-rated Hlatshwayo.
The Wits’ captain will join the Sea Robbers after the Braamfontein-based club was recently sold to notorious businessman Masala Mulaudzi, who’s open to sell top-earners as he’ll be relocating the club to Venda and renaming it Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila next season.
Granted, interests came in number for Hlatshwayo, including from champions Mamelodi Sundowns, but being born and bred in Soweto, and having Pirates keen to secure his services for the last three seasons, the Bafana Bafana captain agreed on principle to become a Buccaneer next season.
Hlatshwayo’s arrival will be a welcome addition for German mentor Zinnabuer at the back, considering his charges have been rampant up front, scoring 19 goals in his 11-match reign that has yielded seven wins, three draws and only one loss.
“We are really playing well. The problem is that we lose concentration towards the end of the second half. We also forget that we have to defend, although we know that we have to attack. But we have to do it both, defend and attack. But now I am really happy that we’ve signed Hlatshwayo,” Sangweni said.
Having donned the famous black and white jersey of Pirates with distinction during his five-year reign at the club, Sangweni’s sentiments that Hlatswayo is the missing cog that will enable the defensive contingent to function like a well-oiled machine couldn’t fall further from the truth, right?
After all, the retired footballer only missed two league matches, making 36 appearances across all competitions when the Sea Robbers bagged a domestic treble during the 2011/12 PSL season when they won the Premiership title, MTN8 Cup and Telkom Knockout trophy.
Sangweni, however, has distanced himself from deeming Hlatshwayo as his rightful successor four years after he hung up his boots due to a pestering knee injury.
“He’s not here to replace me. Our style of play is different. He’s here to play his role,” said Sangweni of Hlatshwayo, who’s led Wits to three titles in the last four seasons – the league crown, MTN8 cup and Telkom Knockout trophy.
“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. When Happy (Jele, the current captain) goes forward, Hlatshwayo has to remain behind and vice versa.”
It’s been 10 years since Sangweni was part of the Bafana Bafana squad that represented the nation in the first ever Fifa World Cup on home soil.
Granted the 38-year-old watched all three of Bafana’s group stage matches from the bench as they crashed out in the first round of the tournament but he still prides himself with the fact he was part of such a historic event.
“It was a bitter-sweet moment for me. It was not nice that I didn’t play but I think those that did, used the opportunity. It’s always up to the coach to make the decision.
“But I am happy that I was part of the set-up because I got a lot of experience,” Sangweni concluded.