orlando pirates

Zakhele Lepasa and Monnapule Saleng could both leave Pirates soon. Image: FarPost

Orlando Pirates best XI: TWO dream signings, TWO big sales

Can this team challenge Sundowns for the title?

orlando pirates

Zakhele Lepasa and Monnapule Saleng could both leave Pirates soon. Image: FarPost

Orlando Pirates have a deep-looking squad but can still splurge in some key areas to mount a proper title challenge. Sundowns, watch out!

Orlando Pirates dream XI with a few finishing touches

Chaine; Johannes, Ndah, Xoki; Monyane, Mbatha, Margeman, Hotto; Mofokeng; Mabasa, Makgopa.

A 3-4-1-2 would allow Jose Riveiro to deploy three of his outstanding central defenders as the Buccaneers are stacked in that position. Having the likes of Thabiso Sesane and Tapelo Xoki on the bench is a luxury that would be afforded to him, should the club pull off a deal for Kegan Johannes. This formation would get the prodigiously talented Relebohile Mofokeng into the side as a number 10, behind two central strikers. A dream move for Grant Margeman would give the Bucs central midfield duo a dynamic and youthful look. There would be casualties, however.

Maswanganyi is too good to leave out

Stylish left-footed playmaker Patrick Maswanganyi was a key operator last season. His tally of five goals and five assists in 27 league matches doesn’t tell the story of how instrumental the 26-year-old is to the Pirates machine and how coherently it functions together. In all likelihood, Jose Riveiro will accommodate him at someone else’s expense. As they say, this is a great problem to have. Intense competition for places across the pitch is turning the Buccaneers into credible title contenders.

Patrick Maswanganyi Orlando Pirates
Patrick Maswanganyi of Orlando Pirates. Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Saleng to leave?

Monnapule Saleng is looking for a new challenge and could leave, while Zakhele Lepasa is also a name we could see through the exit door. Sphamandle Gumede returns from his loan spell at Orbit College but Sipho Chaine and Melusi Buthelezi are ahead of him in the pecking order, while Pirates are still linked with Chippa and Nigeria stopper Stanley Nwabali. Top earner Deon Hotto is also considering an exit. If the versatile and experienced Namibian leaves, Pirates must dip into the market for a left-sided player who can cover a few bases. Club captain Innocent Maela and Hotto are both on the wrong side of 30.

Saleng Orlando Pirates MTN8
Saleng is a wanted man. ©Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Defensive depth galore

Jose Riveiro’s domestic cup double winners have an embarrassment of riches in central defensive areas. They’ve got Xoki, Sibisi, Sesane and Ndah vying for two places while the potential arrival of Thabang Matuludi would add further depth and perhaps make one of the existing players’ futures more uncertain. Matuludi made 29 league appearances for Polokwane in the 2023-2024 season, proving how consistent and reliable the 25-year-old has become. Unplayable on X believes Stellenbosch will compete with Pirates for Matuludi’s signature. Not even Sundowns have this many talented centre-backs. With Thabiso Monyane recently signing a new deal, the Buccaneers immediately look stronger on the right side of defence.

What would your dream XI look like under Riveiro?

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