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Orlando Pirates centre-back Xoki unfazed by stiff competition in Buccaneers defence

15:59 GMT 01/11/2022
Tapelo Xoki, Orlando Pirates, September 2022
Orlando Pirates' Tapelo Xoki is not worried by limited game time, saying he knew what he was getting himself into when he signed for the Buccaneers.
  • Xoki opens up on lack of game time
  • Pirates defender unconcerned by situation
  • Still settling into what is his debut Pirates campaign

WHAT HAPPENED? The central defender has been struggling for regular playing minutes at Pirates, falling behind Nkosinathi Sibisi, Olisa Ndah and captain Innocent Maela in the pecking order. Arriving from AmaZulu before the start of the current season, Xoki has managed just five Premier Soccer League starts and has come on as a substitute three times while failing to make a single appearance in three MTN8 games.

WHAT XOKI SAID: “I came to Pirates knowing that it's a place where competition for places in the XI is very stiff,” Xoki told Sowetan Live. “I was aware that there'll be times where I won't play and there'll be times where I will be playing as well. It [limited game time] is a challenge that every player goes through. I am fortunate that I have got a fair share of my time, playing especially because there are some guys who haven't played at all. We are all positive and we all know we can't all play at the same time.

“I won't think selfishly and say ‘I need to be the main man’ because it's a process. I am still learning the culture of the team as well. The guys supported me when I was playing and I am now doing the same. We laid a good foundation during the pre-season where we developed that brotherhood, so it's easy to support one another and put the team first. There are a lot of games to be played, so my chance is coming.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Xoki’s struggles might not come as a surprise as the Buccaneers have vastly improved in defence as compared to recent past seasons. They are one of the teams with a solid backline in the current campaign after conceding just seven goals in 13 league outings.


WHAT NEXT FOR XOKI? Xoki will be hoping to impress in training and get some playing time when Pirates collide with AmaZulu in the MTN8 final on Saturday. He will be back in Durban to face his former club from where the Buccaneers scouted him.