Sangweni back for Bucs derby
Siyabonga Sangweni (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Kingpin central defender Siyabonga Sangweni is back in contention to feature in the starting line-up for Orlando Pirates for their pinnacle Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Pirates coach Roger de Sa revealed this on Friday following the Buccaneers' final training session before the crucial Premier League encounter that already has a sell-out crowd in the vicinity of 90,000 spectators.
"Siyabonga aggravated an old injury in his first game for Pirates against SuperSport United following the Afcon, and the original diagnosis was that he would be out of soccer for six weeks," De Sa said.
"But typical of the man, he is back after half the time and looking pretty good."
The 31-year-old Sangweni is not only widely viewed as Pirates' most influential individual player at the moment, but also a morale-booster for the other players with his dynamic approach.
Sangweni was considered Bafana Bafana's most successful player in the recent Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa, not only performing his defensive duties manfully, but emerging as the team's top scorer as well.
The Pirates coach said Sangweni would receive a final fitness test on the morning of the derby and the consensus in the camp was that he would be included in the starting line-up.
Not so for former Bafana goalkeeper Moeneeb Joseph, another lengthy Pirates absentee after injuries and other problems, which have kept him in limbo.
Enigmatic former Bafana top scorer Benni McCarthy completed his first full training session after being sidelined for three months due to injuries, but will not be considered for the derby.
"It would be inconceivable and irresponsible to rush him into a game of the stature of the derby at this stage," De Sa said.
"But Benni finally appears over the recurring injuries that have kept him out of soccer for so long, and we are now looking to have him match-fit for the next round of fixtures in Caf's prestigious Champions League."
Chiefs currently enjoy a five-point advantage over the 2011 and 2012 defending PSL champions, but with Pirates having a game in hand a victory over their traditional rivals would go a long way towards placing them in the driver's seat once more.