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Pirates racing against time to sort out problem position

Exactly 10 days before the 2022/23 DStv Premiership season roars to life, Orlando Pirates are racing against time to sort out one problem position. 

Ghanaian shot-stopper Richard Ofori has struggled with injuries since joining the club from Maritzburg United and is currently recovering from an injury.

At the same time, veteran goalie Wayne Sandilands was released from playing with indications he may return in a different capacity.

The former Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns goalie’s contract expired at the end of June and was not renewed.

Richard Ofori

That leaves Siyabonga Mpontshane, who recently penned a new one-year deal, as the only experienced goalkeeper ahead of the new season.

The 36-year-old Mpontshane, who made his mark during a stint with Platinum Stars between 2010 and 2015, has been chiefly a backup goalkeeper since joining the club in 2015.

In fact, he was most active in the 2021/22 season, featuring 27 times in all competitions and letting in 23 goals. Besides Mpontshane, who kept 12 clean sheets last season, 22-year-old Kopano Thuntsane is the only available shot-stopper as they prepare for next season.

The greenhorn, Thuntsane, a youth international, only had three appearances in the second tier when he was on loan at Bizana Pondo. 

Newly appointed goalkeeper coach Tyron Damons and head coach José Riveiro will certainly not want to entrust the inexperienced goalie with the responsibility to guard goals.

According to a FARPost source, the club has been in talks with an unnamed African goalkeeper to join the club ahead of the new season.

“They have identified an excellent goalkeeper to come in and provide cover. He should be arriving any minute because they have concluded with him,” the source said.

Should there be further delays to that signing, the Buccaneers are likely to lean on Mpontshane, who has a total of 81 appearances in seven years, for the Soweto giants. 

Riveiro will take solace in that the club has signed some good defenders, with Tapelo Xoki and Nkosinathi Sibisi joining them from AmaZulu and Golden Arrows, respectively. 

Last season’s defensive signing, Oliseh Ndah, was a revelation and will be expected to play a pivotal role for Bucs.  

The Soweto side have also made some reinforcements, bringing in Evidence Makgopa from Baroka and Eva Nga from Chippa United.

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