Cape Town - Mandla Ncikazi feels that Orlando Pirates' newly-signed defender Thamsanqa Mkhize has what it takes to make a grade at the Buccanners.
Ncikazi, a former Maritzburg United coach and Lamontville Golden Arrows current assistant coach, worked with Mkhize as United assistant coach and head coach for a short stint last season.
The versatile 27-year-old, who can play at right-back and in midfield, has just penned a three-year deal with Bucs after spending three seasons with Maritzburg United.
After being instrumental in Team of Choice's relegation battle last season, the Cato Ridge-born defender was reluctant to renew his contract with the KZN side, which expired on 30 June.
"Mkhize has been consistent for two consecutive seasons at Maritzburg United," Ncikazi told Vodacom Soccer.
"Even during my short stint as Maritzburg's head coach at the beginning of last season he was one of the players I relied on.
"I've known him since from his days at Golden Arrows' reserve team up until his promotion to the first team in the 2010/11 season.
"He is disciplined, hardworking and clever, and he has that never-say-die attitude that you need as a coach from a player.
"Having spent six seasons as a PSL player both at Arrows and Maritzburg, surely he needed a new challenge that would make him grow as a professional soccer player.
"Knowing his capability, versatility and work rate, I have no doubt that he will make a grade at Pirates only if he can be given a chance to prove himself," added Ncikazi.
Mkhize, who will be competing for a starting berth with Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Happy Jele for the right-back position, has previously worked with Bucs' new coach, Muhsin Ertugral, at Golden Arrows in the 2011/12 season.