Reigning Orlando Pirates Player of the Season Musa Nyatama has found game time hard to come by this season, and coach Micho Sredojevic said the midfielder should work harder to feature regularly for the team again.
The midfield maestro was expected to continue from where he left off last season as he was one of Pirates’ key players as they mounted a serious challenge for the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title.
Nyatama, who did well last season, was rewarded with the Player of the Season accolade at the club’s end-of-season awards ceremony.
However, the Benoni-born player has fallen out of favour this season with Xola Mlambo having established himself as Pirates’ first-choice central midfielder.
Goal assesses Nyatama’s situation at the Houghton-based club:
Nyatama has made only three appearances this season; all of them coming in the league. His last match was against Bidvest Wits in an encounter which Pirates lost 1-0 at the Orlando Stadium in mid-August 2018.
He was then sidelined with an ankle injury which kept him out for some few weeks but he is now fit and struggling to break into the team's matchday squads.
Milutin Sredojevic made it clear that the experienced player will have to fight for his place in the starting line-up as there are players, who are currently doing well in his position.
Nyatama appears to have fallen into the complacency trap as he has struggled to replicate the form that saw him cement his place in the Bucs team.
Last season, the former Thanda Royal Zulu player was lauded for his ability to contribute both in defence and attack while also chipping in with a few important goals.
However, this season, Nyatama, who turned 31 last month, has looked too relaxed which has raised questions about his commitment to the team.
THE MOTSHWARI FACTOR
The Buccaneers went all out to reinforce their squad with some quality players during the July/August transfer window in anticipation of a long and gruelling campaign.
One of the players who were brought in was midfielder Ben Motshwari as the Soweto giants increased competition in central midfield.
Motshwari has not looked back since making his official debut against his former side Wits as he is now a regular at Pirates.
The Randfontein-born player has dished out some promising displays in midfield alongside Mlambo, and the two players are slowly making people forget about the club's star performer from last season, Nyatama.
Mlambo knows Motshwari very well as the duo played together at Wits and their partnership is blossoming at Bucs which has left Nyatama out in the cold.
WILL NYATAMA BE PUSHED OUT?
Last season, Thamsanqa Sangweni was expected to play regularly after joining the club from Chippa United and also emulate his older brother Siyabonga at the Soweto giants.
The central midfielder started life well at Bucs, helping the team win on debut, but he was sidelined with a knee injury and upon his return, he played only two games.
Sangweni was then told to work hard for his place in the starting line-up and ultimately, he was sent back to Chippa at the end of that season having failed to live up to expectations.
The Empangeni-born player has since indicated that he failed at Johannesburg-based side due to a breakdown in relationship with Sredojevic's assistant, Rhulani Mokwena.
Just like Sangweni, Nyatama has found it difficult to break into the Pirates after recovering from injury and has also been told to fight for his place in the team.
Could Nyatama be the next player to be pushed down the pecking order and ultimately be ignored by the Bucs technical team? Only time will tell.
HAVE PIRATES MISSED NYATAMA?
One player, who seems to have benefited from Nyatama's absence is fellow central midfielder Mlambo.
The Soweto-born player has not only been Pirates' best player this season, but one of the top performers in the PSL, and many have called for his inclusion in the Bafana Bafana squad.
His ability to initiate attacking play from the deep-lying position while linking well with team-mates has been hailed.
Mlambo has been very influential; creating chances and providing some much needed cover in front of the Bucs defence.
Furthermore, his partnership with Motshwari has shown great potential and if they can maintain their early season form, Nyatama will soon be a forgotten man at the four-time PSL champions.