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Xoki: Players like Orlando Pirates defender can help Bafana Bafana become the best in the world - former coach

22:52 GMT+3 23/12/2022
Tapelo Xoki, Orlando Pirates, September 2022
Orlando Pirates defender Tapelo Xoki can help Bafana Bafana become the best in the world according to his former coach Mzonzima Xheshisa.
  • Xoki has never played for Bafana Bafana
  • Xheshisa feels the tall defender has a bright future
  • Pirates will take on Sundowns next weekend

WHAT HAPPENED? The 27-year-old joined the Soweto giants from AmaZulu FC prior to the start of the current season in what was a big transfer for him.
Xoki, who has never played for Bafana, has already won his first major trophy since turning professional in 2014 as the Buccaneers clinched the MTN8 title last month.
Xheshisa, who coached Xoki at Old Mutual Academy in the Western Cape, discussed the challenges faced by the natural-born leader at the Soweto giants.

WHAT DID XHESHISA SAY?: "I noticed that at Pirates that they play with three players at the back, and they play him on the left side even though he is right-footed," Xheshisa told Isolezwe.
"I called him and asked him why that happened? Did they want him to fail? But he explained to me that the coach played him in that position because Innocent Maela was injured. I know that he is a player who gives himself and does not complain.
"The way he is working hard, I believe that in the next two years he will play for Bafana Bafana. He is the type of player that comes from South Africa," he continued. 
"He listens and works hard which is not usual for players in this country. I always say that if we can get 11 players who are like Xoki, we can be the best in the world. I see a bright future for him. He has to be patient, don't rush. I'm proud of him. He's worked hard to get where he is."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Xoki is one of the Pirates defenders who have been rotated by the club's head coach Jose Riveiro this season.
The technically gifted player is competing with Maela, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Olisa Ndah and Sandile Mthethwa in central defence.
Xoki has made nine competitive appearances for the Buccaneers including one in the MTN8 as he helped Bucs overcome AmaZulu in the final.

WHAT IS NEXT FOR PIRATES AND XOKI? The Buccaneers are set to square off with Sundowns on December 30 as the 2022-23 PSL campaign resumes.

Xoki will be hoping to start with the two local giants scheduled to meet at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.