Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates fans are expectant on Soweto Derby Day. Image: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates’ embarrassment of riches but ONE area of clear weakness?

Pirates have a massive squad filled with talent, but there’s always room for improvement.

Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates fans are expectant on Soweto Derby Day. Image: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates have one of the deepest squads in South Africa. Let’s take a closer look at where it might need some fine-tuning.

Orlando Pirates depth and squad assessment


After Siyabonga Mpontshane and Richard Ofori left the club, The Sea Robbers are still in rude health in the goalkeeping department. Nedbank Cup final hero Sipho Chaine saved Lucas Ribeiro’s penalty against Sundowns in the showpiece game and is the official number one with superb shot-stopping ability and classy distribution with his feet. Melusi Buthelezi is his understudy, while Pirates are strongly linked with talented Chippa and Nigeria stopper Stanley Nwabali. Sphamandla Gumede has returned after a loan spell with Orbit College but he’s likely to leave again for more minutes.

Defensive depth deluxe

Jose Riveiro’s domestic cup double winners have an embarrassment of riches in central defensive areas. They’ve got Tapeolo Xoki, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Thabiso Sesane and Olisa 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 too.

Orlando Pirates defender Olisa Ndah has receovered from injury Image Source: (@ThandiMerafe/Twitter)
Orlando Pirates defender Olisa Ndah has receovered from injury Image Source: (@ThandiMerafe/Twitter)

Midfield needs reinforcements

With Fortune Makaringe and Thabang Monare released, Pirates could do with a few rotation options in the engine room. Thalente Mbatha and Makhehlene Makhaula are the first-choice pairing with Miguel Timm as a backup, but it’s possible the club needs one more body in there. Makhaula has signed a new contract extension but at age 34 he’s not one for the future. Lesedi Kapinga, Monnapule Saleng, Deon Hotto and Vincent Pule could all leave the club, perhaps leaving them slightly light in that area. Maybe another wide attacker is an important area to target? If Hotto leaves, they might also need a new versatile left-sided option or an out-and-out left-back.

Stellar strikers

Despite the exits of Souaibou Marou and Kermit Erasmus, Pirates still lay claim to a star-studded attack with a distinctly Bafana Bafana flavour. Evidence Makgopa led the line for South Africa at Afcon 2023, while Tshegofatso Mabasa bagged a stunning tally of 16 goals in the league last term, landing him the PSL Golden Boot.

Kermit Erasmus joined the Buccaneers for the second time from Sundowns in September 2022 after feverish speculation linking him with a switch to Kaizer Chiefs. The seasoned striker has spent stints in France, Portugal and the Netherlands before settling back into South African football in 2019. It’s anyone’s bet where he could end up in 2024-25 following his release by Pirates after making only six league appearances last term. That’s 20% of the matches. After so much promise, the twilight years of his career have been underwhelming in comparison.

Orlando Pirates Mabasa
Tshegofatso Mabasa in action for Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup against Crystal Lake at the Mbombela Stadium. Image: BackpagePix

Where do you think the squad needs reinforcements, Bucs fans?

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