Orlando Pirates player Mbatha

Orlando Pirates midfielder Thalente Mbatha in the DStv Premiership against Cape Town Spurs. Image: BackpagePix

A-Student: Pirates player was school smart 

Who said football players can’t pass school tests? Orlando Pirates player Thalente Mbatha could have become a psychologist…

Orlando Pirates player Mbatha

Orlando Pirates midfielder Thalente Mbatha in the DStv Premiership against Cape Town Spurs. Image: BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates player Thalente Mbatha has been an instant favourite of coach Jose Riveiro. The 24-year-old has made five appearances out of six games in 2024. It sounds like school teachers also favoured him.


Born in Kwa-Mashu, Durban, Mbatha started his professional career at Highlands Park in January 2020. Highlands Parks’ relegation saw the midfielder later move to Tshwane to join SuperSport United.

Mbatha, whose second name is Wandile, continued to develop under coach Gavin Hunt until January 2024, when he became a Pirates player. The move was a six-month loan deal announced on 25 January.

“Thalenthe Mbatha, joining from SuperSport United, has been signed on an initial six-month loan deal with an option to purchase at the end of the season.

“Mbatha expressed his eagerness to begin this new chapter. ‘“I’m thrilled to be here and can’t wait to start playing. I see this as a golden opportunity and intend to make the most of it,”’ the new Pirates player added.


  • Highlands Park: 0 goals, 0 assists in four games
  • SuperSport: 0 goals, 0 assists in 29 games
  • Pirates: 0 goals, 1 assist in five games.


After quickly impressing many Buccaneer fans this year, Mbatha gave an enjoyable interview to iDiskiTimes’ leading reporter, Velile Mnyandu, last week.

Asked if he was any good in school, the Pirates player admitted that he was a top achiever and could have pursued Psychology if he had not become a professional player in 2020.

“I attended Sastri College in Durban. It’s semi-private I could say. It was a very strict school that wasn’t much more involved in soccer but I feel like they also played a role,” Mbatha said in the latest digital newspaper edition of iDiskiTimes.

“I feel like I’ll take very much advantage because I wasn’t bad in school. I was actually in a better position of passing,” Mbatha said if he would take an opportunity to study now while being a Pirates player.

“An A student?” Mnyandu asked.” Yes, I could say that,” Mbatha responded. “But I feel like if given the chance to go back to school I’ll grab it with both hands. It’s also something that my mother would be proud of because she constantly tells me that I must go back to school,” Mbatha said before adding Psychology would be his choice of focus.

Meanwhile, Mbatha and his teammates will be back soon. Pirates will travel to Limpopo to take on Sekukhune United in the DStv Premiership. The game will kick off on Saturday, 30 March at 17:45 from the Peter Mokaba Stadium.