Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates have shocked the soccer fraternity by signing two defenders in former Chippa United captain Diamond Thopola and Phetso Maphanga, with exciting, skilful winger Thabo Rakhale going the opposite direction.
The Buccaneers have been found wanting up front and many expected to see the arrival of formidable attackers to ease underperforming Thamsanqa Gabuza and Thabiso Kutumela’s workload.
Pirates have been solid at the back and have had more options in the heart of defence with Justice Chabalala, Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Gladwin Shitolo keeping former captain Happy Jele on the bench. They have Abbubaker Mobara, who can play as a centreback or at right fullback, while defender Ayanda Gcaba does not even have a place in the team.
Maphanga will have to fight for the leftback berth against captain Thabo Matlaba, who can also play as a false winger.
Perhaps Pirates’ signings are a sign they will start their attacks from the back.
Meanwhile, Bloemfontein Celtic are determined that midfielder Kabelo Mahlasela will only leave if there is a good offer.
City Press has learnt that Celtic would rather lose the attacking midfielder for free when his contract expires at the end of the season than let him go for peanuts.
A high-ranking Celtic official said they could not agree on a deal for the player with Kaizer Chiefs.
He said the club was prepared to keep the 26-year-old until his contract expires at the end of the season, but that he could move if the right offer came along.