Crossroads for Orlando Pirates as challenges mount

20:24 EAT 07/01/2022
Orlando Pirates 2021.
It's now been a decade since the Buccaneers last won the league title, during which time the club has won just two cup trophies

At a time when Orlando Pirates' on-field form has improved, off-the-field issues threaten to destabilise the Soweto giants.

Earlier in the season, there were disciplinary issues surrounding several players including Goodman Mosele, Gabadinho Mhango, Ben Motshwari and Thembinkosi Lorch, as reported by Sunday World, the publication quoting Pirates boss Dr Irvin Khoza as effectively telling the players: “You either put your act together or you will face the door."

Former Pirates midfielder Benedict Vilakazi also chipped in on the matter back in October last year.

"Pirates are currently facing a discipline problem within the squad. Gabadinho Mhango was recently in the news after he allegedly left a hefty bill at a nightclub." he told iDiskiTimes.

“We are also hearing allegations of Ben Motshwari and a domestic violence situation."

At that stage, with co-coaches Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi still finding their feet after the shock early departure of head coach Josef Zinnbauer, Pirates' form was patchy.

Towards the end of the year though the Buccaneers started to string some results together to their credit and climbed to second place on the table, 14 points behind Mamelodi Sundowns though.

But just around the same time, more off-the-field problems surfaced when TS Galaxy boss Tim Sukazi was denied entry into Orlando Stadium, the resulting brawl captured on video.

Around the same time, a Bucs official is alleged to have slapped a Galaxy counterpart - who went on to lay a charge with the police. That was just before Christmas, and now earlier this week, Captain Nomvula Mbense of the Orlando Police confirmed the arrest of a senior Pirates official (later released on bail) in a common assault case.

It's another bit of publicity the club could have done without and was not the first such incident they've had this season - previously Bafana Bafana head coach Hugo Broos was barred from watching Pirates play Mamelodi Sundowns.

Club boss Khoza is meanwhile embroiled in another saga in his capacity as PSL chairman - the issue of Kaizer Chiefs' missed games after a Covid-19 outbreak.

His contribution to South African football has been immense. However at 73, one might think that he might want to take his foot off the pedal in the next few years, which leaves an interesting question as to who will take the leadership role at Bucs.

These are trying times for Pirates, and fans may be hoping that the good form pre-Christmas continues when the league resumes in February, and that for now at least, the attention can return to the field of play.