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New Orlando Pirates defender Asavela Mbekile eyes Caf Champions League and MTN8 Cup with Soweto giants

7:34 PM GMT+8 14/06/2018
Asavela Mbekile
The versatile player, who previously turned out for Chippa United, arrives at the 1995 Caf Champions League winners hungry for success

New Orlando Pirates defender-come-midfielder Asavela Mbekile has set his sights on winning the Caf Champions League after joining the Soweto giants.

The 31-year-old player secured a move to the Buccaneers having endured a difficult time at Mamelodi Sundowns last season, but he leaves the Tshwane giants having enjoyed a lot of success with the club. 

Mbekile, who will officially join Bucs on a free transfer next month following the expiration of his contract with Sundowns, is eager to help his new club win trophies next season.

“I am happy, as it’s one of the moves I prayed for. Pirates haven’t won anything in a long time and I want to be part of the group of players that changes that to bring glory to for the fans,” Mbekile told Daily Sun. 

“I have won many trophies with Sundowns, the only one missing is the MTN8, which I aim to win with my new teammates,” he continued.

Mbekile, who won the Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout Cup and PSL title (twice) with Sundowns, is hoping to clinch the Champions League for the second time, having won it with the Brazilians in 2016.

“Pirates were the first club in South Africa to win the Champions League in 1995 and surely the fans want to see the trophy in their cabinet again. I am excited to get to play in the competition again, to be able to make history,” he said. 

Ex-Moroka Swallows defensive midfielder Mbekile, has reunited with former Sundowns assistant coach Rulani Mokwena, who is now part of Bucs’ technical team - serving under Serbian tactician Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic.

“Having worked with him before gives me a bit of an advantage because he knows a bit about me. Having said that, I still need to prove that I am good enough, because history doesn’t count, it’s long gone,” Mbekile explained.

The hard-working player will compete with Thabo Matlaba and Mthokozisi Dube in the right-back position at the Houghton-based club.

“It will be tough, since Pirates have quality players like Thabo Matlaba and Mthokozisi Dube. But you can only play if you do well at training, and that’s what I will do.”

When asked if he will miss the Brazilians, whom he bonded with during his four-year stint with the club, Mbekile said: “I will miss everything there because Sundowns are a great club and professionally run.”

“It has been four years and I have made new friends – from the players and groundsmen to the fans who were nice to me. I will always cherish the great times I had at the club,” he concluded.