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COMMENT: Can Orlando Pirates cope without Jele against Kaizer Chiefs?

09:57 GMT+3 09/11/2019
Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates, August 2019
Goal discusses the veteran defender's suspension and explains why his absence has left a huge void in the Bucs defensive department

Orlando Pirates will face their archrivals Kaizer Chiefs without their inspirational captain Happy Jele on Saturday. 

The long-serving defender is unavailable for selection after picking up a red card in Bucs' draw against Maritzburg United in midweek.

His absence is a huge blow for the Buccaneers as they look to avenge the defeat suffered at the hands of Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout Cup last weekend.


Jele's Influence

The 32-year-old defender has been a pillar of consistency for Pirates' defensive line since he was handed the captain's armband after two seasons ago replacing Thabo Matlaba.

Jele leads by example on the football pitch and he has proved to be a vocal leader, who tends to read the game well and organise the team.

Furthermore, the former South Africa under-20 international is fully committed in every challenge he makes either aerially or on the ground.

So, his absence will be keenly felt by the Buccaneers if his replacement fails to perform in the biggest club football fixture in the country.


Pirates Without Jele

Jele has already missed one match thus far this season and the Soweto giants struggled without his leadership and experience at the back.

Pirates were stunned 1-0 by PSL debutants Stellenbosch FC as a costly error by Alfred Ndengane, who had replaced Jele in the starting line-up, led to the only goal of the match last month.

The Buccaneers could have conceded more goals on the day as their backline was easily penetrated by Stellies, who were let down by poor finishing in front of goal.

Last season, the Mpumalanga-born player missed one game throughout the league campaign and Pirates secured a 4-1 win over AmaZulu with Nyasha Munetsi having filled the void left by Jele and excelled.

Munetsi has since left the Houghton-based side for French side Stade Reims prior to the start of the current campaign and Pirates did not delve into the transfer market to replace him.


Possible Replacement

Ntsikelelo Nyauza has re-established himself as a regular in central defence alongside Jele in recent months which means there is only one spot up for grabs.

Justice Chabalala and Alfred Ndengane are the two options available for coach Rhulani Mokwena to fill the void left by Jele, while utility player Abel Mabaso can also operate in central defence.

Ndengane will probably be selected by Mokwena due to his experience and he has been getting some game time ahead of the other two, who could be rusty and unprepared for such a massive match.

Nevertheless, whoever gets the nod from the young tactician will have to bring his A-game as Chiefs are a free-scoring side and any defensive mistakes will be punished in the most ruthless fashion.