Orlando Pirates’ new signings for 2021/22 season

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Orlando Pirates coaches will be hoping that this time around they build a formidable side to successfully challenge for the Premier Soccer League title and Caf Confederation Cup.

In the upcoming season, the Soweto giants will again be bidding for a first league title since 2012.

They also return to the Confederation Cup where their quality was brutally exposed in a 4-0 quarter-final, second leg, defeat by eventual champions Raja Casablanca.

It is now yet to be seen if the squad the club is busy building will be strong enough to be more competitive in both domestic competitions and in Africa.

Pirates signed centre-back Kwanda Mngonyama and midfielder Bandile Shandu, both from Maritzburg United.

Attacking midfielder Goodman Mosele was also signed from Baroka FC while winger Monnapule Saleng arrived from Free State Stars.

Ntsako Makhubela has been signed from Golden Arrows and they also went to West Africa to sign Nigeria defender Olisa Ndah and Ghanian forward Kwame Peprah.

Not another miss by Pirates

Kwanda Mngonyama, Orlando Pirates, July 2021

After Thulani Hlatshwayo was signed by Pirates before the start of last season, there were so many expectations about the defender.

He arrived at Pirates with a glowing profile headlined by being Bafana Bafana captain, but he went on to disappoint in his debut season with the Buccaneers. 

Pirates would be hoping for Mngonyama to quickly settle and live up to the expectations of a defender playing for a traditional giant.

Mngonyama signed a two-year-deal and finds Hlatshwayo, captain Happy Jele and Ntsikelelo Nyauza as centre-backs already at Pirates.

There will be scrutiny on whether Zinnbauer this time around made the right decision in beefing up the central defence with a player who immediately makes an impact.

For a player boasting the experience of eight Premier Soccer League seasons shared between Bidvest Wits, two stints at Maritzburg United and Cape Town City, hopes are that the 27-year-old is a hit and not a miss.

Free agents, good business 

Bandile Shandu, Maritzburg United, November 2019

Last season, the Buccaneers signed Hlatshwayo, Deon Hotto, Thabang Monare and Terrence Dzvukamanja on free transfers from Bidvest Wits.

Now he has Shandu and Mngonyama as free agents after their Maritzburg United contracts expired at the end of June. 

While no transfer fee has been paid for established PSL players, that could be regarded as good business.

But much focus is on seeing if they will flourish at Pirates.

For Shandu, it is the first time in his professional career to move from Maritzburg where he spent the last nine seasons after graduating into the first team as an 18-year-old.

The 26-year-old signed a three-year deal.

Mosele out to banish reputation of Baroka to Pirates flops

Goodman Mosele, Baroka FC, December 2020

Players who move from Baroka FC to Pirates have a history of failing to do well at the Soweto giants.

The latest is Collins Makgaka who managed to make just seven appearances in all competitions last season which was his maiden campaign at Pirates.

Makgaka was preceded by the likes of Gift Motupa and Thabiso Kutumela, who completed transfers from Baroka to Pirates only to flop.

But interestingly, Motupa and Kutumela managed to re-establish themselves and are now at Mamelodi Sundowns.

Now, Goodman Mosele has signed for Pirates from Baroka and there is interest in watching if he will banish the grim reputation carved by former Bakgaka players.

After being handed a four-year deal, it was a show of faith in his capabilities and he now has to repay the coaches for that trust.

It will be the first time for him to play for any other club than Baroka and the 21-year-old is currently with the South Africa Under-23 side at the Olympic Games in Japan.

Will Saleng introduce himself to SA football at Pirates?

Monnapule Saleng, Bafana Bafana, July 2021

Saleng might have consistently featured for Bafana Bafana at the Cosafa Cup tournament and helped them to gold.

But his name is yet to be known in South African football and has a lot to do to prove himself.

Upon his signing, there were questions about a 23-year-old midfielder with no PSL experience signed from National First Division side Free State Stars.

He is at Pirates on a three-year deal but has been sent on loan at Swallows FC.

Ncikazi influence, first signing after Zinnbauer's departure

Ntsako Makhubela, Orlando Pirates, August 2021

Ntsako Makhubela is a player familiar to coach Mandla Ncikazi after the two worked together at Golden Arrows.

The midfielder’s arrival is expected to give the Buccaneers some edge in terms of creativity. 

Further attempts to fix a problematic defence

Olisa Ndah, Orlando Pirates, August 2021

With the Pirates defence, especially at centre-back, shaky last season, the club secured the services of Mngonyama but they still stuck with the Thulani Hlatshwayo-Happy Jele central defence pairing in their start to the season.

Now, they felt they needed more and then went to West Africa to bring a Nigeria international. 

Olisa Ndah has been added as the coaches are desperate for a solution at the heart of defence. 

First striker signing of the season

Kwame Peprah, Orlando Pirates, August 2021

With Pirates facing problems upfront just like last season, it was a concern to their fans that they had not added a striker.

But the club turned to Ghanian forward Kwame Peprah.

It is yet to be seen if he will combine well upfront for a biting partnership with Frank Mhango, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Zakhele Lepasa.

Players Pirates might look to add

Evidence Makgopa, Baroka FC & Thulani Hlatshwayo, Orlando Pirates, November 2020

There have been reports suggesting that Evidence Makgopa is following his former Baroka teammate Mosele to Pirates.

For the better part of last season, Pirates were hit by a centre-forward crisis following a spate of injuries to Lepasa, Mabasa, Mhango and Jean-Marc Makusu.

This saw former coach Josef Zinnbauer at times fielding Dzvukamanja, Mntambo and Hotto as number nines.

The signing of Makgopa might be ideal for Pirates after the player enjoyed a decent season with Baroka last season and scored seven league goals. 

The 21-year-old also broke into the Bafana squad and scored a brace on his debut against Uganda in June.

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He is currently with the Under-23 side at the Olympic Games in Japan.

SuperSport United Bradley Grobler was also being linked with Pirates as has been the case in recent past seasons.

But the chances of him joining the Buccaneers appear very faint after he recently signed a new Matsatsantsa deal.