Fitting new signings at PSL’s Big 3

2015-07-05 15:31
Siyanda Xulu will provide Chiefs with the right options in the team’s defence. PHOTO: Samuel Shivambu / BackpagePix

Daniel Mothowagae looks at the qualities newly acquired players bring to the Absa Premiership’s big three – Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates

The shortfalls

Absa Premiership champions Kaizer Chiefs were blunt in their strike force, runners-up Mamelodi Sundowns were inconsistent in their team selection and Orlando Pirates often had cracks in the goalkeeping department.

These were the most obvious shortfalls for the three local soccer powerhouses last season.

But have the trio been spot-on with their signings?


Following the exodus of many key players who formed the spine of the all-conquering Amakhosi side last season, it was inevitable that the team would look to plug those holes.

The departure of goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, defender Tefu Mashamaite and attacking midfielder Mandla Masango meant that new coach Steve Komphela needed reinforcement to shore up the limited depth of players from last season.

The acquisition of defenders Siyanda Xulu (23), Keegan Ritchie (25) and Daniel Cardoso (26) means Chiefs have plugged more than enough of the void in their rearguard, which is already blessed with experienced campaigners such as Eric Mathoho (25) and Morgan Gould (32).

Xulu, Ritchie and Cardoso are capped at Bafana Bafana level.

Ritchie and Cardoso commanded regular game time at their previous clubs, Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars, respectively.

Xulu was released from Russian side FC Rostov, where he was embroiled in a contractual dispute.

There is already a sense of stability in Komphela’s rearguard for the upcoming season.

Mathoho matured under Mashamaite in terms of reading the game and using his height as a component in the team’s defensive and offensive approaches, notably during set pieces.

Xulu’s versatility means he is odds-on favourite to fill the void left by Mashamaite at central defence.

There is no doubting Xulu’s potential, reflected in the long-term deal (five years) he has made with Amakhosi. He has all the qualities of a modern football defender: comfortable with the ball at his feet and able to initiate attacks from the back.

The only challenge for Xulu could be his fitness following inactivity in Russia.

Ritchie and Cardoso will provide quality backup to the already established fullbacks Tsepo Masilela (30) and Siboniso Gaxa (31). Then there is Gould and Ivan Bukenya (23), who are readily available for central defence.

The return of midfielder Lucky Baloyi (24) from Moroka Swallows, where he was on loan, means Komphela has solid cover for Willard Katsande (29) and Reneilwe Letsholonyane (33). Baloyi is a versatile midfielder who also boasts international experience.

Chiefs relied heavily on Bernard Parker (29) in attack as a source of goals while Kingston Nkhatha (29), Matthew Rusike (25) and Siphelele Mthembu (27) all struggled to score when thrown into the fray.

Former AmaZulu striker Bongani Ndulula (25) comes into the team with a reputation for being an instinctive marksman, who could complement Parker upfront.

Ndulula did not score much in his two-year spell at Usuthu, but his contribution during his last days at Pirates managed to unlock his potential as a striker.

It was also at that time when he equalled the 15-goal record haul of SA Under-23 all-time leading scorer Siyabonga Nomvethe.

At Chiefs, “Drogba” will easily enjoy supply from fine passing midfielders such as Letsholonyane, Siphiwe Tshabalala (30) and George Lebese (26).

But finding a perfect combination upfront will be a challenge for Komphela, as he also has Parker, Togolese striker Camaldine Abraw (24) from Free State Stars and Mthembu as options.

Abraw scored five league goals for Stars last season.


There was more than a dire need for the Buccaneers to strengthen their side, given their taxing domestic and continental programme.

The arrival of goalkeeper Felipe Ovono (21) coincides with the rise of current number one goalie Brighton Mhlongo (24), who initially struggled to find his footing when he replaced the deceased Senzo Meyiwa in October last year.

Not many South Africans know much about the Equatorial Guinea goal minder Ovono, who came to prominence with his national team when they finished fourth at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Bucs lured him from the obscure Guinean domestic league, where he played for Deportivo Mongomo. He has almost the same frame as the late Meyiwa.

Ovono will provide solid backup in a department that has Siyabonga Mpontshane (29), who is yet to prove himself since moving from Platinum Stars in January.

At 27, newly signed Zimbabwean-striker Tendai Ndoro from Mpumalanga Black Aces certainly brings valuable experience to the team.

Ndoro scored seven league goals last season but there are equally in-form Bucs strikers – Lehlohonolo Majoro (28), Kermit Erasmus (24) and Thamsanqa Gabuza (27) – to contend with.

Bucs’ long domestic and continental programme will certainly offer almost every player at the club a considerable run in its upcoming campaign.

Former Baroka FC captain Gift Motupa (20) joins a clustered Pirates midfield, which has previously proven difficult for newcomers to break into.

But Motupa’s high work rate – coupled with his versatility as a midfielder who can be deployed either as an attacker or in a holding role – could convince coach Eric Tinkler otherwise.

Motupa first introduced himself as a scoring midfielder in his National First Division debut in 2013.

He has also been gaining international experience as part of Shakes Mashaba’s Bafana squads for regional and continental competitions.


With a roster full of players capped across their national teams, coach Pitso Mosimane would only confuse himself by bringing in any new players at this stage.

Clearly, the latest acquisitions, former Ajax Cape Town midfielder Keagan Dolly (22), Platinum Stars’ Mogakolodi Ngele (24) and Burundian striker Fiston Abdoul Razak (23), were not really needed for a club that already had similar types of players in the side.

Bongi Ntuli (24), Bongani Zulu (22) and Luyolo Nomandela (25) offer the same qualities as the newly acquired trio.

Razak is highly recommended for the goal-scoring exploits he displayed while playing for Sofapaka FC in the Kenyan Premier League. But is he any better than Zimbabwean striker Kudakwashe Mahachi (21), who, admittedly, is yet to prove himself since joining Sundowns in January?

Perhaps Mosimane’s investment going into the new season should be on a defender to fill the void left by former captain Alje Schut.

And it is about time Sundowns realised the potential of Kwanda Mngonyama (21), who proved himself every time he was shipped out on loan to other clubs.

Talk to us: Who do think has made the best signings  Chiefs, Pirates or Sundowns?

Read more on:    sundowns  |  pirates  |  chiefs

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